Democratic Candidate's First TV Ad Is a Surprise
Libby Mitchell's first TV ad of the general election may not be the most polished political commerical I've ever seen (there's a weird green screen thing going on in one shot and she blinks way too much) but it did manage to surprise me.
Unlike most political ads these days, which fall into the categories of either a sunny personal biography, a harsh political attack, or a statement on an obscure wedge issue to get some cheap votes, Mitchell actually managed to make a serious ad on a substantive topic that highlights the differences between herself and her opponent.
LePage's personal integrity would seem to be the obvious target for a TV ad. He has flung that door wide open with a series of false statements, strange behavior, and the certainly questionable, apparently illegal actions of his family members in accepting tax and tuition credits for which they weren't eligible. Instead, however, Mitchell's ad focuses on an important, mainstream issue (the environment), correctly states both her own and her opponent's positions, and draws a contrast between them. It features the candidate herself speaking to the camera in a conversational tone. In a time where we expect contrast ads to contain grainy photos and ominous-sounding voiceovers, it seems old-fashioned and quaint; like she's challenged him to a race on penny-farthing bicycles.
Despite the mildness of the commercial, the LePage campaign sent out the press release equivalent of a temper tantrum in response. It used the word "attack" four times in the headline alone.
According to LePage campaign strategist Brent Littlefield, "Libby Mitchell's campaign is about mudslinging, not improving Maine. [The ad] is one more desperate attempt for Mitchell to hold onto power and spend more money."
We may very well see ads that deserve that kind of response soon, but this isn't one of them.