The Washington Post

How to fight back against an Obamacare attack ad? Have your kids do it for you.

In the midst of an intense Republican primary for U.S. Senate, what do you do when your opponent unleashes a TV ad attacking you for praising Obamacare?

If you're Midland University President Ben Sasse (R), you ask your daughters for some help.

In one of the more unique campaign commercials of the 2014 cycle, Sasse's daughters defend his opposition to Obamacare, which has been called into question by his opponent, former state treasurer Shane Osborn (R).

"He does not like Obamacare," says 10-year old Alexandra, who adds that her dad wants to "destroy it and rebuild something that’s successful. He despises it."

Adds Corrie, 12, "When people say bad things about him he tries to ignore it. And we always pray for the opposing candidates at breakfast."

The commercial comes a day after Osborn released an ad slamming Sasse for calling Obamacare, "quote, 'an important first step.'" Sasse's campaign contends Osborn took him out of context. But with $200,000 behind the spot, the damage was done no matter how Sasse's campaign felt.

But Sasse may have more success taking his argument to the airwaves with his new ad. It cuts through the noise by using a softer, more personal tone and doesn't look like a typical campaign ad.

Dozens of Obamacare ads have been flooding the airwaves in key congressional races so far this election cycle. Many, many more are on the way. With such a level of saturation, there is an incentive to do something that looks different. Something that voters won't want to roll their eyes at and mutter, "here we go again."

Both Democrats and Republicans have been coming up with ads that are more personal and less combative.

An attention-grabbing ad from a super PAC supporting Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) features a woman who says she is a breast cancer survivor and can now get health insurance thanks to Begich's vote for Obamacare. The law prevented insurance companies from refusing to cover people with preexisting conditions.

The conservative group Americans For Prosperity struck a notably personal tone with a round of ads aimed at Democratic senators in which a woman declares directly to the camera that Obamacare "just doesn't work."

Obamacare may be a big national issue. But more and more in 2014, political ad makers are drilling down and making a personal pitch in the battle to define it.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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