Unions are working overtime to put Barack Obama over the top in battleground states.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is airing a TV ad accusing John McCain of being “Risky on Social Security.” The ad says McCain wants to privatize Social Security, subjecting it to stock-market volatility. One senior says, “We earned that money, now he wants to give it to Wall Street. No way.”

Obama’s been using this same argument, and Factcheck.org calls it a whopper. According to Factcheck, the plan McCain supports wouldn’t affect current retirees, since no one born before 1950 would be allowed to put Social Security taxes in private accounts. AFSCME, however, contends that the plan would hurt the entire Social Security system and so would affect all seniors.

This is AFSCME’s first return to TV since the Democratic primaries, when it supported Hillary Clinton against Obama. The ad will run in Wisconsin until close to Election Day, with more than $1 million worth of air time, according to the union.

On another front in the issues war, the AFL-CIO, which includes AFSCME, this week dropped a mailer featuring a union member who says Obama will “protect my gun rights.” The mailer went to 80,000 gun-loyal swing voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Click on the image to read the mailer:


The union mailer is evidently trying to counteract the National Rifle Assocation’s message that Obama wants to take away gun rights.

One of the ads says Obama “wants you to believe that he supports your Second Amendment rights, though he’s consistently opposed them.” It expands the attack on the Democrat by accusing him of “attacking the First Amendment too,” because his campaign lawyers sent letters to stations warning them not to air the NRA’s ads. The takeaway? “Don’t let Barack Obama trample your constitutional rights.”

Another NRA ad (below) dredges up Obama’s controversial comments from last winter, that some working-class voters “cling to guns or religion” because they are “bitter.” The ad says, “Gun owners have their own word for Barack Obama.” The word: “Radical.”

This originally appeared on The Secret Money Project Blog, a joint project of CIR and National Public Radio tracking the hidden cash in the 2008 election.

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Will Evans is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, covering labor and tech. His reporting has prompted government investigations, legislation, reforms and prosecutions. A series on working conditions at Amazon warehouses was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Gerald Loeb Award. His work has also won multiple Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, including for a series on safety problems at Tesla. Other investigations have exposed secret spying at Uber, illegal discrimination in the temp industry and rampant fraud in California's drug rehab system for the poor. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.