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Hot Ads of the Week: Candidates School Us with Math Equations and Block Letters

Welcome back to Hot Ads of the Week. Labor Day's passing means only one thing: the fall election season has officially kicked off. This week saw many first ads in competitive races around the country and, as always, we'll bring you the top five:

The "Real Jims" battle in Minnesota

For number one, we start in Minnesota's 6th Congressional district, where you could say the battle is between the real "Jims." After Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann introduced "Jim the Election Guy" to tell the public that her Democratic opponent Tarryl Clark "loves taxes," Clark is on TV with her own ad, with her own Jims -- five men actually named Jim.

"'We actually live in Michele Bachmann's district and know her real record," say the Jims. "Like how she said holding BP accountable was extortion." Another Jim says, "Bachmann just works for the wrong people and that's why real Jims support Tarryl Clark."

This is a cute ad launched by Clark to cut back at the cute ad run against her.

Paulsen Runs on Math

For No. 2, here's an example of a Republican incumbent running as sort of an outsider, not as a career politician. First term GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota is running as a math guy. And he uses his four daughters, in his first ad of the season, to show how tiring his math message can be, at least at home.

"I'm a numbers guy," he says. Daughter Cassie says, "He's a math major." Adds daughter Briana, "Here we go again."

"This sounds familiar," says Tayler, while the youngest, Liesl, says, "sure does."

While the daughters are rolling their eyes at their dad's message, he continues: "Balancing the budget can be achieved by.." The girls respond in unison: "Spending Less."

The announcer calls Paulsen "the Math Guy protecting your wallet from the politicians," and then, "Erik Paulsen, Math Guy, Congressman, Dad."

Crist Spells Independent

For the next two, we go to the fascinating three-way race for the Florida Senate seat. In his first ad, Republican-turned-Independent Gov. Charlie Crist walks down the middle of the screen between red block letters that spell out "Republican" on his right and blue block letters spelling out "Democrat" on his left. Crist says the way to get results for Florida and improve the economy is by "putting aside our differences and putting people ahead of politics."

"As an Independent, I will take the best ideas of Democrats and Republicans to get things done," Crist says while rearranging the letters. "Because at the end of the day, there's only one party I work for," Crist says after finishing his work revealing that he moved all the letters around to spell "Americans."

The ad ends, of course, with Crist saying confidently, "I'm Charlie Crist, an Independent, and I approve this message."

One astute ad watcher points out that, magically, Crist comes out with a red "M" for Americans, but there is no "M" in Republicans. And what may be foreshadowing of what side of the aisle Crist would caucus with in the Senate if he wins this race, he also magically made a blue "I" appear out of nowhere.

Kendrick Meek stays positive, or does he?

Set to bouncy music, Democratic Senate nominee and South Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek opens ad No. 4 by getting into the back of an air boat and introducing himself.

"I'm Kendrick Meek, the Democrat for Senate, and with three of us running, you should know what makes me different," he says.

As the music continues, Meek starts listing the ways. "I'm the only one who's fought against developers draining the Everglades," Meek says as he speeds through the water.

"The only one against offshore oil drilling before and after the BP spill," yells Meek as he speeds through what looks like the Gulf of Mexico on a different boat.

"The only one against privatizing Social Security," he says riding on a bus with senior citizens cheering for Meek.

Then Meek says he's the only one who's pro-choice, who's stood up to President George W. Bush and who voted against high credit card fees.

The ad is interesting because it clearly defines Meek, sounds very positive, but at the same time Meek gets jabs in on both Crist and Republican candidate Marco Rubio.

Big Bad Debt in Iowa

Number five is the old west in spirit. If Iowa represented the wild west, this ad would provide its theme song. Set to rustic western music and sounding like an ad for Chuck Wagon dog food, the announcer in this ad, for GOP gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry Brandstad, takes current Democratic Gov. Chet Culver to task for the state's debt. Make that for "Big Bad Debt."

"In Iowa we call our Governor Chet, said he'd give us jobs, but what we got was big debt," says the announcer.

"Big Debt, Big Bad Debt" goes the refrain. "That's all we get from old Governor Chet, Big Bad Debt." Y'all should watch the video and take a look.

Don't forget to vote below for your favorite. Last weeks' winner was Harry Reid - with his "real person" attack against Sharron Angle.

Interactive Map: CBS News Election 2010 Race Ratings

Jill Jackson is a CBS News senior political producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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.
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