As politicos and pundits dissect every move the presidential hopefuls make in the earliest primary states, they sometimes overlook South Carolina, where more than a few presidential candidacies have been put to bed. While the three Democratic front-runners have spent more in Iowa and New Hampshire, they've recently brought a new intensity to the battle for the Palmetto State. Illinois Sen. launched a radio ad last week targeting the state's black voters and former North Carolina Sen. went up with his first TV ad there Tuesday.
Eager to show she too is committed to South Carolina, despite her dearth of personal appearances there, Sen. has poured money into the state this fall, more than tripling her campaign spending there since the second quarter. Putting those funds to use, Clinton released a new radio ad across the state this week that contrasts her commitment to veterans with that of the current administration.
The spot focuses on the New York senator's efforts to provide veterans with "the health care and mental health care they need for life," deftly tying toughness on defense with health care, an issue on which she polls particularly well. The ad praises Clinton for voting to expand the military's Tricare health care program and says she would "fully fund" the Department of Veterans Affairs as president. "They have done their best for us, now we must do our best for them," Clinton says.
Besides reminding voters again of Clinton's commitment to health care, the ad includes several other keystones of her overall media strategy. It ignores her primary opponents entirely, instead contrasting her with President Bush, who she says was "more than willing to send our young men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan but not willing to take care of them when they came home." By mentioning that Clinton has been a "steadfast champion" of the troops for "decades," it builds on her theme of experience, while her tagline -- "If you're ready for change, she's ready to lead" -- cloaks her in the mantle of "change."
Clinton's new ad might signal a new shift in attention toward South Carolina and help her solidify her current lead in the state, but that doesn't mean she's taking her eye off the upcoming Iowa caucuses. In a less traditional ad launch than her South Carolina radio buy, Clinton also released a new Web video this week aimed at Iowa voters that uses humor to try and bring them out to caucus.
In the video, potential first husband Bill Clinton and Iowa campaign chief Tom Vilsack, the former Hawkeye State governor, make cameos, along with a literally off-key Hillary, to demonstrate that, compared with some things, caucusing is easy. The lighthearted Web ad seeks not only to instruct young Iowans on how caucusing works, but also to deflect recent charges that Clinton is a "classic Washington" politician.
One more ad? Not likely
"One More Chance" is the name of the latest radio spot targeting Republican House members who have opposed expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program. But if the past few months of wrangling over the issue are any indication, the standoff between the White House and Congress could continue well into 2008. The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change began airing the ads earlier this week in an effort to pressure GOP lawmakers into changing their minds both on SCHIP and, more generally, on the Democrats' labor, health and education bill, which failed to garner enough House votes to override a presidential veto this week.
Like many other pro-SCHIP ad campaigns, this one largely focuses on representatives who are vulnerable to a challenge next year, such as Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn. But it also takes on Republicans in safe districts, including National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, sending a message to Republican leaders that they could face tougher races than they expect next year, and they'll certainly hear about this issue again.