The independent 527 group Democratic Courage today launched its first anti-Clinton attack ad:

The spot, which focuses on an early Hillary Clinton gaffe in which she said the idea of $5,000 per child baby bonds held some appeal (perhaps mistakenly thinking of the $500 per child bonds she had earlier supported), appears to be designed with more of a national than an Iowa audience in mind. (The issue of baby bonds is hardly at the top of the mind of Iowa voters, who cite the Iraq war, health care, and jobs and the economy as their top concerns.)

The Clinton campaign warned this morning: "Beware Video News Releases. A 527 group run by an Edwards supporter is planning a press conference this morning to announce a negative ad that it says it will air in Iowa. Only problem is that the group has NOT purchased a single second of air time there -- not even on cable."

And, indeed, a visit to Democratic Courage's site shows the group using the online release of the video to fundraise for an eventual Iowa television buy. "Get This Ad on the Air!," the group exhorts. "Your contribution of $25, $50, $100, or more will help put this ad on the air -- and ensure that Iowans hear its message that Democrats -- and Americans -- can do much better."

For its part, Barack Obama's campaign says he wants no part of such tactics. “These types of ads have no place in the race for the Democratic nomination. As Obama's record shows, he believes all campaign activity should be above-board and accounted for,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement today. The Obama campaign's release on this topic also pointed to his earlier comments opposing such independent expenditure groups. "We do not think people should be donating to 527s," he said last summer.

--Garance Franke-Ruta