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Screenshot of forthcoming ad from Concerned Veterans for America. Courtesy photo.

The Koch-backed group Concerned Veterans for America is launching a seven-figure digital ad campaign this week urging President Biden to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by May, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The ad blitz comes as Biden's national security team is debating whether to delay the withdrawal, amid fears the wrong decision could lead to a resurgence of terrorism and uptick of violence in the country.

  • Notably, Biden did not mention Afghanistan during a speech last Thursday at the State Department — an omission foreign policy experts took as a sign of him remaining undecided about how to resolve the troop dilemma.
  • The move requested by the veterans' group would honor a deal former President Trump's made with the Taliban last year.

Details: Concerned Veterans will initially pump $1.25 million into its new nationwide ad campaign.

  • One such ad — titled, "20 Years. It's Time." — highlights the length of the war and urges viewers to call on the White House and their elected representatives to bring the troops home.

What they're saying: "What we would like to do is find ways to work with the administration where there's common ground," Will Ruger, vice president of foreign policy for Stand Together, a Koch Network organization, tells Axios.

  • Nonetheless, "We have to hold them accountable. ...The president will talk about ending the war there, but then keep a counterterrorism force — and that's a contradiction. And I think that contradiction needs to be remembered by the public."

The backdrop: Stand Together has spent over $3 million since 2019 on a series of ads about the issue.

  • In total, the campaign has generated over 700,000 emails to Washington leaders urging them to end the war.

Go deeper

Super Bowl advertising is going to look a lot different this year

Screen shot from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's Super Bowl ad via YouTube

The big game, happening for the first time in history without many fans in the stadium, will feature spots with socially-distanced characters, and people staying home.

Why it matters: While some ads will try to be light, the gravity of the pandemic will still be felt.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Biden to waive sanctions on company in charge of Nord Stream 2

Angela Merkel (left) with Vladimir Putin. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

The Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, according to two sources briefed on the decision.

Why it matters: The decision indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline, and underscores the difficulties President Biden faces in matching actions to rhetoric on a tougher approach to Russia.