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Hot Ads of the Week: The First 2012 Campaign Ad?

Last week's Hot Ads were all about guns, but this week candidates turn to God. Or Aqua Buddhas. Welcome to Hot Ads of the week.

There's just a week and a half left of campaign season which means the ads have officially hit a fever pitch as candidates battle over the airwaves for the last word.

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Aqua Buddha

Though technically this ad from Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway appeared late last week, it dominated political conversations this week. Rand Paul's wife even held a press conference to defend Mr. Paul's Christian faith

"Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible a hoax that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ" asks that scary sounding announcer who's getting a lot of work these days. "Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his God was Aqua Buddha?"

The ad then goes on to question why he now wants to end funding for faith based initiatives and tax cuts for faith based charities. This advertisement may be one of the strangest of the year. The story stems from the victim of this kidnapping telling this story to GQ and then later the Washington Post.

But Rand Paul and his wife seem to be more offended by the attack on his religious beliefs than the actual kidnapping story. Which brings us to our next ad...

Jack Conway False Witness

The Paul campaign responded to the "Aqua Buddha" ad with one of their own.

"Rand Paul keeps Christ in his heart and in the life he shares with his wife and three boys" the female announcer says as music that sounds somewhat holy plays in the background and Paul walks peacefully with his wife and three boys.

"Don't be fooled by Conway's desperate attack" she says. "It's shameless, disgraceful, gutter politics at its worst."

"What kind of shameful politician would sink this low? To bear false witness against another man, just to win an election? This one would. Jack Conway."

Welcome to Nevada, Mr. President

Watching this campaign ad, you'd think we slept through the November 2nd midterm elections and woke up for the 2012 presidential campaign. This ad comes as President Obama travels to Nevada today to support Harry Reid.

It starts with an Obama campaign ad from 2008. Mr. Obama saying that "our troubled economy isn't new" and that "while you've been living up to your priorities, Washington has not."

"Obama!" cheers start to slowly crescendo while the screen reads that "In 2008, we were promised change we could believe in."

Then Mr. Obama on the campaign trail saying that "this is the moment, when the rise of the ocean began to slow" as a photo of an oil-covered bird, possibly from the BP oil spill disaster, is put on the screen.

Mr. Obama then makes other promises, like ending the war and restoring the country's image. The screen then shows photographs of the president and Harry Reid together while the screen reads that "then Harry Reid and the President got to work."

Leading to "13 trillion in deficits" and a "14 percent unemployment rate" in Nevada along with the highest foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.

"Welcome to Nevada, Mr. President" says the close of the ad as a black and white photo of Mr. Obama and Sen. Harry Reid embracing lingers on the screen. CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder called this the first campaign advertisement for 2012.


Across the country, Democrats and Republicans are battling it out this campaign season over the Bush tax cuts.

Whether to extend them all since families and businesses need more money as the economy continues to struggle. Or to only extend tax cuts for the middle class since the nation's $13 trillion dollar deficit must get under control.

Many Democrats are making the latter argument, including Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) who was caught on television by his opponent, Rob Cornilles telling a news anchor in an interview that "this is a $1,400 difference to middle class individuals and I don't think that this is something that middle class individuals would view as a significant tax hike on their income."

"Really?" asks the announcer incredulously. "David Wu thinks raising taxes 1400 dollars on the middle class is insignificant? During a recession?"

The narrator then accuses Wu of being the problem.

"Too Dangerous to Have Real Power Over Real People"

This ad brings us back to the Nevada Senate race, a contest that is not only competitive, but offers a new drama on an almost daily basis as Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, tries to survive a real challenge from tea party candidate Sharron Angle.

Angle's been the recipient of support from some of these outside groups like American Crossroads who started advertising in Nevada against Harry Reid very early. Here, Reid gets an advertising boost from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

"Sharron Angle's dangerous ideas will make her life worse" the narrator warns as the screen shows a pre-teenager who morphs into a teenage girl. "If she was raped and got pregnant, Angle would force her to have the baby."

Next, the viewer sees a college-aged woman. "Her college loans ended." The woman continues to morph in age until it's an older woman who would see her "retirement, her social security, phased out."

The narrator ends the advertisement by saying "Sharron Angle, too dangerous to have real power over real people."

This ad clearly hits on the narrative many Democrats and liberal groups want out there about some of these tea party candidates -- that they are too extreme and out of the mainstream.

And finally, the votes are in! West Virginia's Governor Joe Manchin's ad last week hit it out of the park with over 50 percent of the vote. He won with his ad where he shoots the cap and trade bill with a rifle to show just how much he opposes it and to claim his independence.

Vote for this week's winner below!

Robert Hendin and Jill Jackson are CBS News Senior Political Producers. You can read more of Jill's posts in Hotsheet here or follow her on Twitter. More of Robert's posts in Hotsheet are here and you can follow him on Twitter here.
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