From NBC's Ali Weinberg
The Chamber of Commerce is investing $100 million over a five-year period in a campaign intended to both energize its existing members and reach new voters who may not be attuned to its pro-business message, chamber leaders said today.
In the short term, the chamber's nationwide "Campaign for Free Enterprise," which began last year, will build support for midterm candidates who run on what the chamber deems "free enterprise policies" including limited government spending and lower taxes.
Campaign Managing Director Stan Anderson said his group was reallocating funds away from television commercials and would instead rely on online advertising, social networking sites and text-messaging applications to reach new potential members.
"These are not your traditional chamber members," Anderson said.
Through those channels, it will encourage voters to confront candidates at rallies and town halls with five suggested questions that Anderson said would help gauge the candidates' support of free enterprise.
The first of those questions: "Do you believe that our free enterprise system is currently threatened?" was posed by a reporter back to Anderson.
"I think there are significant questions about the direction of this country that American voters are going to have to decide on this fall," Anderson said, "and I think it's up to each individual voter to decide how they're going to respond to the individual answers of candidates who are going to answer these questions."
When asked about President Obama's newly announced plans to invest $50 billion additional dollars in infrastructure, additional business tax cuts and a permanent extension of a business research and development credit, Anderson expressed mix sentiments.
"I was struck by a lot of what he said about entrepreneurism and the need for the private sector to create jobs," he said, "and I'm frankly pleased that he continues to talk in those terms. The problem frankly is the difference between rhetoric and the action. That's a continuing concern to us because we don't think the policies articulated by the Congress and the administration have been very successful."