The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The first campaign ad we’ve seen featuring a drill sergeant

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is out with a new TV ad for his U.S. Senate campaign called "At Ease," which is an ode to his military background. The title also neatly sums up the commercial's goal: Putting voters "at ease" about the Republican amid an increasingly bruising television advertising battle.

A casually dressed Cotton, who is an Iraq War veteran, appears alongside his former drill sergeant in the ad, which is set to lighthearted music and features some good-natured ribbing.

"Sen. Pryor says my military service gives me, quote, a sense of entitlement. So I brought in an expert," says Cotton, mentioning a comment his opponent, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), made earlier this year.

"Did I say at ease, Cotton?" his former drill sergeant says next with faux-toughness.

Here's why it's notable: Voters in Arkansas have been served up a bunch of ads this year  (already) filled with gloomy music, unflattering photos and ominous narration. Cotton tries to hit some very different notes in his new spot.

The ad comes after months negative ads have been flying at both candidates in the race. Americans For Prosperity has been hitting Pryor over Obamacare; Senate Majority PAC has been slamming Cotton by tying him insurance companies; Pryor has been hitting Cotton for his stance on Medicare; Cotton has hit back against Pryor, calling him "unfaithful to the truth."

Cotton's wager? A softer approach will hit home with voters burned out on much of what they have seen so far.