President Barack Obama will be at the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month — on local TV, that is.
Obama's team plunked down more than $181,000 in ad time on Tampa-area network affiliates for the last week of August to ensure that the president isn't completely out of the spotlight when Mitt Romney is crowned as the GOP standard-bearer.
Obama for America will air more than 160 spots during shows such as Dr. Phil, Undercover Boss and Bachelor Pad, including $73,720 for 49 spots on the Tampa CBS affiliate (WTSP-Ch. 10), $54,500 for 75 spots on the ABC affiliate (WFTS-Ch. 28) and $53,750 for 42 spots on the NBC affiliate (WFLA-Ch. 8), according to public disclosures posted this week to the website of the Federal Communications Commission.
The local Fox affiliate, WTVT-Ch. 13, had either not filed its information for the convention week with the FCC as of late Wednesday or did not sell time to Obama.
The same station did, however, report to the FCC a $30,000 buy, primarily to air during news shows, from Americans for Prosperity, the conservative super PAC backed by the billionaire Koch brothers.
The Obama ad buys are set all day and into the night, from spending up to $4,500 per ad on America's Got Talent to spots on the fantasy show Grimm — all in addition to morning and evening news buys.
The content of the ads is not known, and an Obama campaign spokesman declined to comment for this report.
Florida is a swing state that, as of recent polling, was leaning toward Obama, so it makes sense that the campaign would want to push its message there.
"It means that the Obama campaign is taking it to the Republicans where they live and plans to put up a big show of strength on the air," said Elizabeth Wilner of Kantar Media, a firm the monitors political TV ad spending.
The Obama campaign as of yet doesn't have anything approaching the Tampa buys in other large Florida markets during that period.
So far it does not appear as if the Romney campaign has reserved similar space in Charlotte, N.C., for the following week when the Democrats convene there to renominate Obama, according to filings by Charlotte network affiliates.
There is some evidence, however, that groups aligned with Romney have already bought ad time there.
Both Americans for Prosperity and American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-run super PAC, have September purchases in the Charlotte market that include the Sept. 4-7 period of the Democratic National Convention, but the filings are not as specific as those provided to the FCC by Tampa stations.
"You will see a lot of Republican advertising in Charlotte," Wilner predicted. "If you're Mitt Romney, you need to win North Carolina if you're going to become president of the United States. You're going to be on the air in an important market and to get in the Democrats' face."
POLITICO and the Tampa Bay Times have partnered for the 2012 presidential election.