George Allen is back on the Virginia airwaves after a brief lull, and plans to advertise nonstop through the frenetic two months remaining before Election Day.
Allen, the Republican nominee against Timothy M. Kaine (D) in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. James Webb (D), drew some media attention by not advertising last week despite having reserved air time months ago. Kaine has consistently raised more money than Allen, but the Republican’s campaign believes he’ll have ample resources to compete on the air during this most important final stage of the race.
Allen’s new ad, “Envision,” is largely positive, focusing broadly on his economic plan, and is the first spot to feature Allen himself doing the voice-over.
“America’s at a crossroads,” Allen says. “Will we continue to decline, or begin to ascend again?”
Allen says he envisions an economy “free of excessive regulations and taxes,” with increased energy exploration and more affordable colleges. He also calls for a stop to “devastating defense cuts.”
Allen’s first ad campaign, launched in June, came after his Republican primary victory and was clearly aimed at attracting women and independent voters to his camp, as he sought to close a gender gap against Kaine. The spots featured women who knew Allen well giving testimonials to his character and professional record.
Allen’s new ad is less overtly targeted but still appears designed to appeal to the same demographic, with repeated shots of families and footage of Allen playing with children. His strategy of mostly airing positive ads has been made easier by the fact that outside groups like Crossroads GPS have poured millions into airing negative ads against Kaine.
The summer run of ads cost the Allen campaign $750,000. A campaign official said they had bought close to $2 million worth of air time through the end of September, and reserved roughly $3 million more for October. Allen could end up buying additional time in the coming weeks.
Kaine, meanwhile, has bought at least $4.5 million worth of air time, using the Democrat’s fundraising advantage to lock down the slots he wanted at lower ad rates. (Late buys cost more, especially given how crowded the Virginia air waves are). He could also choose to purchase more time in the closing weeks.
Kaine campaign spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said Allen’s ad ignored what he actually did the last time he served in office.
“George Allen’s ad is a drastic departure from his decades-long record in politics and his re-election campaign proposals,” Hoffine said. “George Allen had the opportunity to address these issues the last time he served in the Senate. Instead, Virginians got a fiscal mess and an economic recession that we’re still recovering from.”