WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 — The election is nearly six months away, but from the dueling ads released by two Super PACs today, you would think it was in six weeks. If the ads are this tough already, imagine what we will be seeing in the fall.
However, you may never see them unless one of your favorite talking heads airs it on his or her show, but voters in the key swing states of Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Pennsylvania will see them. This is where the election will be decided.
Called “Basketball,” the anti-Obama ad, produced by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, uses professional actors to depict the disappointment of a woman voter who supported President Obama his last time out, but who is now disenchanted with the way he has handled the economy. She worries about her grown children, shown early in the video as kids playing basketball, but who now as young adults can’t find a job.
The video reflects the feeling of being let down by a President who had promised change but never delivered. Sadly, the mom says Obama “spoke so beautifully” in 2008, but “things changed for the worse.”
It is not a direct, nasty attack on Obama as past political ads were on Senator John Kerry in 2004 or Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988 were. Republicans know that people like the President, but they are disillusioned by the reality gap between his promises and the results. But it gets the viewer in the gut.
Nearly $10 million will be spent to show this ad in key states over the next three weeks. Some pundits are already predicting the ad could be quite successful in undermining Obama with women and independents, two key constituencies he needs if he is to be reelected.
What is unusual is that Crossroads went with actors rather than real people and wrote the ad as a narrative with music to heighten the weariness of the mom with the Obama presidency. The fact that it is an actress and not a real woman might not even register with the average voter. They just might be caught up in the emotion the ad generates.
This is from the softer, gentler Karl Rove, not the pit bull we saw in the Bush years. But remember pit bull puppies can bite too.
On the other side, an Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA Action, just rolled out a 33 second video using a real woman, Loris Huffman, who worked for an office supply company, Ampad in Indiana, until Bain Capital under Mitt Romney’s leadership bought the company. It was shut down and 200 employees were fired, including Loris.
Bain and its investors made $100 million in the deal, according to The Boston Globe. Loris tells her story and says, her voice trembling, that Romney made her “sick,” leaving us to wonder if she meant literally or figuratively.
Why use a real person and a not pro? The strategist, Bill Burton, behind the ad explained, “Here in the real world, people, like the men and women seen in our ads, are among the thousands of people who are suffering from the real economic policies of the Mitt Romney.”
The ad ends with the words that Democrats hope will stay with voters: “If Mitt Romney wins, the Middle Class loses.”
The Democrats have faith the message will resonate with those voters who have no problem with millionaires making money but not at the expense of people like themselves. And they are promoting the ad to the tune of $4 million.
Which video will strike the right chord with the American voter? Think of the two ads as dueling banjoes. The two tunes each is playing is going to be played and replayed with variations on the theme but always coming back to the same notes: Obama let you down and Romney will cost you jobs.
Come November, will voters still be listening or will the ads make them reach for earplugs rather than pull the lever at the voting machine?
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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