How do you use an opponent's advanced age against him or her without coming across as too nasty or insensitive? John Ratcliffe thinks he has found the formula.

The former U.S. attorney and primary challenger to Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Tex.) released a TV ad Tuesday that begins with a reminder of Hall's age and ends with a call for leaders who are focused on the "next generation." It does so without sounding antagonistic.

"At 91, Ralph Hall has served admirably," Ratcliffe says gently as calm music plays in the background. "But after four decades in Washington, the problems are getting worse, not better."

Hall turned 91 last week. He is the oldest member of Congress.

Ratcliffe and Hall are engaged in a runoff campaign that will culminate May 27. Hall, 48, is backed by outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. As Ed O'Keefe wrote in March, age has been an undercurrent throughout the race. In one of his own ads, Hall has poked fun at his wrinkles, casting them as political battle scars.