Hot Ads of the Week: "Real People" Come Out in Force

Welcome back to Hot Ads of the Week. It has been a busy week for campaigns as some are gearing up for their primaries and others are fully into general election mode.

We've seen more ads from some our favorites, Michele Bachmann brought back "Jim the Election Guy" for a second go round, and Sharron Angle continues her attack on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. That's where we begin.


Above: Watch CBS News' Robert Hendin and Anthony Salvanto discuss these ads and more on "Washington Unplugged"


A Real Person for Harry Reid:

Welcome to the epicenter of negativity - the darkest, meanest and possibly the most important senate race this year -- Nevada. The first ad this week is from embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid's got a lot of cash to spend and he's going to spend it defining his opponent, Sharron Angle as an extremist. The ad features Angle saying that she "wouldn't have voted for unemployment extensions" and that "we really have spoiled our citizenry."

"They really want to be dependent on the government," she says.

We then hear from a "real person" who's unemployed saying she's not dependant and Angle doesn't understand. Debra Harding of Las Vegas, who is identified as being out of work for 12 months, says "I'm not spoiled, and I don't want to be dependent on anybody. If Sharron Angle doesn't get that, she should be out of work, not people like me."

Over the last bit of sound from Harding are the words "Sharron Angle Just Too Extreme."

It is a powerful ad, and is similar to many we've seen a lot this week, where real Americans say why a candidate is suitable, or in this case, not suitable for office.


Attacking on Social Security with Real People

The number two ad this week takes us to the Hoosier state. In Indiana, a hot swing state for 2010, Democrat Baron Hill is seeking re-election and has gone back an oldie but a goodie when it comes to campaign ads, scare tactics over the third rail of politics -- Social Security. This ad also relies on real people to make the argument, attacking the GOP candidates views on Social Security and Medicare.

The ad has video of GOP candidate Todd Young saying "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" and then quotes him as saying Social Security and Medicare are "social welfare programs."

To answer Young, the ad turns to Cliff Gilpin of Columbus, Indiana - "Welfare, I worked my whole life."

"Money from every paycheck went to Social Security, that's not welfare," says Sherida Moore of North Vernon. And John Eckert, with his wife Leila Eckert of Jeffersonville says "That's not welfare, we earned it."

The announcer asks, based on Young's views, "Will he fight to protect them or take them away?"

Margaret Hensley of Seymour says plainly and effectively to the camera "Todd Young is not for us"


Martin Heinrich Runs on Accomplishments

For number three, we go to an ad that we don't see that much of anymore, what could be called a traditional television ad, something positive.

First term Democrat Martin Heinrich is actually running on his accomplishments in Congress. A positive ad that shows what he has done in congress and asks to be sent back, because "we still have so much work to do."

The ad touts Heinrich's upbringing and then ticks off some major accomplishments in Congress, saying that he's fought for the middle class and those on tough times.

"It's no secret that times are hard right now for too many New Mexico families. That's why I led the effort to extend unemployment insurance, fund job training and new technologies and ensure that women get paid fairly for the work that they do," he says.

There is no mention of the stimulus, health care, or financial reform -- those are quite controversial of course, but he does mention extending unemployment insurance, which is an issue that has raised ire from Republicans for being fiscally irresponsible. Heinrich does take credit for equal pay for women, known as the Lilly Ledbetter act, an early achievement of the Obama administration which has gone almost totally ignored since it's been overshadowed by the larger and more controversial legislative achievements.


Club For Growth Hits Hard

Number four is an ad that people are going to see a lot of this fall. It's from a conservative group, Club of Growth, which is no stranger to tough ads aimed at Democrats in elections.

What's different this year is that because of the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United, some of these ads will air on television much closer to the election day than before. And what's unique here is that the ad takes on Congressman Joe Sestak, who we all remember beat out Senator Arlen Specter for the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania Senate.

Why is that unique? Because Sestak's Republican opponent Pat Toomey was once the head of The Club for Growth, as Toomey calls it a "limited government, free-enterprise advocacy organization." He's a pro-business conservative who is going to get a lot of help in this election from business related political groups.

The ad is classic outside group. It uses the familiar slur - "liberal." Over melodramatic music, the announcer says as his words appear on the screen: "It's very liberal to stick taxpayers with that $300 billion mortgage bailout. It's very liberal to vote for a massive energy tax that could kill jobs here. And it's very liberal to say that the $787 billion Obama-Pelosi stimulus plan should have spent even more. That's Joe Sestak's record, very liberal. We can't afford Joe Sestak's liberal schemes in the Senate," says the announcer.

The words "Sestak - Very Liberal" appear boldly on screen at the end of the ad.

So in one ad, Sestak is called a "liberal" or "very liberal" a half a dozen times and is linked to both President Obama and the biggest target of the liberal moniker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


Governor Obama?

At number five, an ad in a hotly contested gubernatorial race. Governor races are going to be big this year, with 37 mansions up for grabs in November and both the Democrats and the Republicans are poised to spend millions to influence the outcome.

The Republican Governors Association are dropping millions into competitive states like Florida and in this case Georgia, where former Governor Democrat Roy Barnes is running for the job again. The ad ties the Democrat to President Obama and manages to take swipes at both of them.

Over shadowy images of Mr. Obama, the announcer says: "One man ruled with an iron fist. Giving us politics and laws we did not want and did not support. When challenged, he was thin skinned and arrogant putting the blame on others. Think we are talking about Barack Obama? We're not. We're talking about former governor Roy Barnes."

The announcer then says that when Roy Barnes was governor of Georgia for four years, "the results were disastrous."


Honorable Mention

An honorable mention this week goes to the campaign of Congressman Roy Blunt, running for Senate in Missouri. His campaign released a web video, not an ad, that mocks the national advertising campaign of Old Spice. Take a look here.


Last Week's Winner

Drum roll please: last weeks' winner was Colorado Governor candidate John Hickenlooper's fun shower ad - a commanding win with 50 percent of the votes. Cast your vote for this week's favorite below and vote again in November for the Hot Ad of the Year!



Interactive Map: CBS News Election 2010 Race Ratings


Robert Hendin is a CBS News senior political producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.

  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.

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