Trailing Republican Sen. David Vitter in the polls, Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon is making a dramatic move to boost his Senate campaign: He is airing a two-minute long television ad that attacks Vitter over the prostitution scandals that plagued the senator in 2007.
The spot is a shorter version of a video the Melancon campaign produced called "Forgotten Crimes," and it deems Vitter's ties to the scandal the case of "Lawmaker, Lawbreaker."
The ad reminds viewers that in 2007, Vitter's Washington telephone number was found among those called by an escort service that prosecutors say was in essence a prostitution ring. The ad also features a recording from a "former French Quarter prostitute" who alleged Vitter had a sexual relationship with her. The recording is complimented by a "crime scene re-enactment" of their alleged encounter.
Vitter acknowledged "a serious sin" in 2007 but denied reports he used the services of a prostitute.
Melancon's ad also features remarks from anonymous Louisiana residents. "If you're writing the laws, you should abide by the laws," says a man identified as a retired firefighter.
The whole two-minute spot will air starting today on cable television statewide, Melancon's spokesperson Jeff Giertz told CBS News Senior Political Producer Jill Jackson. Giertz declined to say how much the campaign was spending on the ad buy, but he added that they are exploring airing it on broadcast television as well.
Campaigns sometimes release splashy ads in part to attract media attention, which will result in the allegations being aired at no cost to the campaign.
Melancon has tried to make inroads in the campaign by focusing on the incumbent's morality. He wasearlier this year after it was reported that a Vitter aide had an arrest record that included a conviction for attacking a woman. Melancon used the aide incident as fodder for an ad as well.
Polls show Vitter has maintained a solid lead. The most recent poll, conducted by Republican polling firm Magellan Research, put him ahead by 18 points. As of August, Vitter also held a cash advantage of about $3 million over Melancon, Politico reports.CBSNews.com Special Report: Campaign 2010
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.