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UPDATE: Randall Terry, a conservative anti-abortion activist trying to be Obama's antagonist in the Democratic primaries by running against him, might actually get some airtime for his graphic "campaign" ads during the Super Bowl this Sunday on affiliate stations in over a dozen markets.
Terry plans to air graphic anti-abortion spots—tweaked to qualify as campaign ads for his run for the nomination—via a loophole in the FCC's Communications Act, which bars stations from censoring political commercials from federal candidates during the 45 days before a primary election in that state. Since announcing his campaign about a year ago, Terry's goal has been to raise money to air graphic ads in primary states using the loophole, with a high-profile ad blitz during the Super Bowl.
According to CNN, as of last week Terry had purchased ad time in 13 markets. Eight markets will air his ads pregame, and five markets will run ads during the game: Ada, Okla.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Paducah, Ky.; and Joplin and Springfield, Mo.
Terry says that at least one station is questioning his status as a legally qualified candidate. According to Terry, NBC Chicago has refused to air the ad, noting that Terry is running as a write-in and has not qualified as a "bona-fide" candidate (as required by the FCC), based on Illinois' standards. Terry, who (characteristically) responded by blaming Obama and dubbing his battle to air in Chicago as "David vs. Goliath," asked the FCC to compel NBC Chicago to air the ad, according to his campaign.
The ads are viewable here. Consider yourself warned: They're graphic.
Wednesday, Jan. 11: Randall Terry, an anti-abortion activist who's running against Obama in the Democratic primaries, may have found a loophole allowing him to air graphic anti-abortion ads in 40 cities during the Super Bowl this year—if he can afford it.
The story, which local Colorado paper (warning: graphic image at link) the Greeley Gazette picked up and popularized recently via ThinkProgress and Right Wing Watch, began back in January 2011 when Terry announced his intention to run as a primary candidate against Obama, sights set on an ad spot for the Super Bowl, the conservative Daily Caller reported.
His current appeal for funds—he apparently hasn't yet raised the money from the ads—is in the form of a fundraising letter Terry sent to supporters in which he goes after "The Abortion Gang," a pro-choice group that gained some media attention when one of their bloggers called for supporters to make small donations to local pro-choice organizations every time Tim Tebow (who starred in a Focus On the Family-sponsored anti-abortion ad during the 2010 Super Bowl) scored a touchdown. Terry wants to retaliate by raising enough money to air graphic ads showing images of dead fetuses in 40 cities during this year's big game.
Terry is the founder of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion organization that has since distanced themselves from the activist. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, Terry has freely admitted that his campaign exists essentially to take advantage of FCC free speech rules that allow federal candidates to run uncensored ads. The FCC's Communications Act bars stations from censoring political ads from federal candidates during the 45 days before a primary election in that state. So far, he's aired ads in New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska, but obviously the Super Bowl would provide him a much larger platform.
Here's an excerpt from the multi-page fundraising letter Terry sent to supporters earlier this month:
We will reach TENS OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, and get enormous media coverage as well. And THAT, my friend, is what the babies deserve. And it is exactly what people like “Sophia” and The Abortion Gang who murder unborn babies dread. They FEAR Americans seeing the truth. Let’s be a voice for the babies. I beg you to give right away to these Pro-Life Super Bowl ads. We only have a few days to book the ad, and to pay for them in advance in these cities.
You can view the ads on Terry's website. They are very graphic.