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Ben Nelson On Ads Run Against Him: They Could Kill Health Care Reform

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Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) lashed out Friday at the ads being run against his position on health care reform in his home state, saying they would backfire -- and might even derail the entire reform process.

In a statement issued late in the afternoon by Nelson's office, spokesman Jake Thompson warned that if the new series of ads calling out the Senator's "stalling" on reform were "an indication of the politics going into August, then health care reform may be dead by the end of August."

"Nebraskans don't need outside special interest groups telling them what to think. Senator Nelson has nothing but praise for Nebraska groups working toward health care reform. Unfortunately, he says, these outside groups undermine the sincere and dedicated efforts of people in our state," Thompson wrote. "Recently, similar ads have run in Nebraska. Those ads by other special interests prompted hundreds of Nebraskans to call our offices, with 9 to 1 urging Senator Nelson to do exactly the opposite of what the special interest group wanted. In short, the ads backfired."

The hard brush-back by Nelson's staff reflects just how heated the health care debate has become even within the Democratic Party. On Friday morning, two liberal groups, Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy for America, launched a new ad using the testimony of a Nebraska businessman to call out Nelson for holding up health care legislation in the Senate. The spot was one in a series of television spots the groups have launched targeting the senator.

Asked if Thompson's warning would dissuade his organization from running the ad -- which is slated to air 200 times in Nebraska by next Wednesday -- Adam Green, co-founder of PCCC, responded: "Absolutely not. We're going to buy more ads in Nebraska on Monday."

"Ben Nelson just called a Nebraska small businessman whose health insurance costs went up 42% an out-of-state special interest, while never disputing that he is bought and paid for by health and insurance interests who gave him millions to vote against his own constituents," Green continued. "If Ben Nelson stands behinds his spokesman's words, he just proved himself a fundamentally corrupt and out-of-touch politician who feels perfectly comfortable lying to his constituents and going to bat for private insurers who fear competition and want to rip off the people of Nebraska."

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