Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best Senate Ads

Earlier this week, The Fix listed its favorite ads from this year’s Senate races.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, "Rocking Chairs": Rarely does a single television ad change the direction of a race. This one did. Run by the DSCC independent expenditure arm in early August, the ad, which features two older men sitting on rocking chairs and debating Dole's lack of effectiveness and support of President Bush, framed Dole as changed and out of touch -- the narrative that ultimately beat her. This, to our mind, was the single most effective ad run in any Senate race in the country.

Freedom's Watch, "Peace Bus": The idea of a Department of Peace has long been a pet project of Congressional liberals but had never been used to such devastating effectiveness before this Freedom's Watch ad slamming Rep. Mark Udall for his vote in favor of it. The aging hippie narrator was a nice touch but the piece de resistance was the smoke-filled "peace van."

Tom Udall, "Humbled": The luxury of being a heavy favorite in an open seat race is that you are freed from hammering your opponent and can instead focus on positive accomplishments. This ad, which is told by a disabled Iraq war vet, is an incredibly powerful testament to Udall's work on behalf of returning veterans.

Norm Coleman, "Angry Al": In a race that started nasty and just went downhill from there, this ad stood out for its stirring use of comedian Al Franken's words against him. Franken spent much of the last two years seeking to put controversial statements he had made in this past behind him -- reassuring voters that he was serious about serving in the Senate. This ad put all those doubts about Franken back on the table in a visually compelling way.

Joe Biden, "Kitchen Table": While the national media focused on Biden's vice presidential bid, his own longtime ad guy -- Joe Slade White -- was crafting this terrific black and white ad centered on Biden's daily train trip to and from Washington. "Each night riding home on the train, seeing the lights in the houses, he knows the conversations mothers and father are having around the kitchen table," says the ad's narrator. Powerful stuff.

Jim Inhofe, "One Man in America": There was a time when national Democrats thought they might be able to knock off Inhofe -- a man who even his allies acknowledge is rough around the edges and, at time, hard to like. But, this ad helped take Inhofe's supposed weaknesses -- being stubborn and hard headed -- and turn them into positives, noting that he had accomplished positive things for the state that many people said couldn't be done. And, by the way, Inhofe won reelection with 57 percent.

John Kerry, "Sean Bannon": This ad, run by Kerry in his non-competitive reelection race, shows how much a gifted media consultant can do in the space of 60 seconds. We are introduced to Sean Bannon, a wounded Iraq war vet, who tells the story of meeting Kerry while recovering and asking to receive his Purple Heart at Fenway Park. Cut to the footage of the day when that wish came to pass. A wonderful example of a positive ad designed to remind voters why they sent Kerry to Washington.

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