U.S. Senate hopeful Timothy M. Kaine on Wednesday launched an ad that aims to contrast his record against his opponent’s without giving off a negative vibe.
The former Democratic governor addresses the camera directly in the 30-second spot, titled “Actions Matter.” It is Kaine’s fourth ad in the neck-and-neck race against Republican George Allen, a former governor and senator.
“As governor, I cut $5 billion in spending, balanced the budget and cut my own pay,” Kaine says. “George Allen increased spending 45 percent as governor, helped turn a record surplus into a massive deficit as senator, voted four times to raise the debt ceiling and voted four times to raise his own pay. Now that’s a real difference.”
On his feet, Kaine turns and points to make phrases — “cut spending,” “balanced budget,” etc. — appear as if by magic on the screen. The delivery is low key and professorial.
Though the ad is clearly meant to cast Kaine in a better light than Allen, the campaign said it was meant to have an upbeat tone. That’s in contrast to the barrage of harshly negative ads that third-party groups have run against Kaine, according to David Eichenbaum, a media consultant to the campaign.
“Having weathered over $10 million of ads run by independent groups that have all been pretty harshly negative against Kaine, we have really decided it is important, and we believe more effective to, run ads — even when they are comparisons of records — to keep them simple and straightforward, measured and respectful, both of voters and even of our opponent,” Eichenbaum said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
Did it come across as a kinder, gentler ad to those on the receiving end? Not so much.
“Tim Kaine’s TV Career Turns Negative,” read the headline on the response issued by the Allen campaign.
“Today, Tim Kaine stars in his latest TV ad as a salesman of misinformation who cherry-picks his own record while throwing mud to attack and blame others,” the statement began.
It went on to quote Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis: “Tim Kaine’s TV career has reached a new low as he peddles a fake ‘fiscal responsibility’ record with the hope that Virginians won’t know a scam when they see it. The truth is that George Allen cut his pay by 10 percent all four years as Governor, while Tim Kaine waited well into his second year to cut his pay by only 5 percent. Tim Kaine pats himself on the back for following the Virginia Constitution’s requirement of balanced budget while he traveled the country as the Democratic national party chairman, championing policies that led to federal deficits eight times higher than when George Allen left the Senate.”
The release winds up with: “Actions matter, but so does the truth.”