Campaign ad watch: Kavanaugh, health care and puppies

NBC News' weekly round up of top campaign ads.
by Ben Kamisar /

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

WASHINGTON — Another busy week on the airwaves included a mix of some consistent themes for both parties. Democrats continue to hammer home health-care related arguments and Republicans look to disqualify their rivals.

But it wasn't all serious, one ad gave us puppies and children.

Check out this week's YouTube playlist of the ads that caught the eye of the NBC News Political Unit, and read on for more on each spot.

Sen. Jon Tester in Montana Senate

Like the rest of the red-state Democrats this cycle, Tester has to walk a fine line in order to win a state President Trump won by a landslide in 2016.

One way Tester has tried to do that is with a heavy emphasis on his work promoting border protection, one of Trump's signature issues. That's gotten a boost from an endorsement by the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents border patrol agents that endorsed Trump in 2016.

Tester's new ad plays that angle up with testimonials from the union president and members, explicitly noting the group's endorsement of Trump.

Take a look at that ad here.

National Republican Congressional Committee in Michigan 08

The NRCC has a tough piece of tape from 2014 where the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain hammers Democrat Elissa Slotkin, then a Defense Department nominee, saying "you either don't know the truth, or you are not telling the truth."

The problem is, McCain's family doesn't want anyone to use his comments in attack ads, a stance the family spokesperson outlined earlier this month when the NRCC first released ads using McCain's words.

This ad represents a doubling-down on that strategy, a signal the NRCC believes the comments are strong enough to be worth the controversy.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in New Jersey 07

Candidates have largely avoided incorporating the sexual assault allegations levied against Judge Brett Kavanaugh into their paid media. But this DCCC ad is the first new ad to make reference to Kavanaugh since the allegations emerged.

The spot only includes a passing reference to Kavanaugh, and it's in the context of concerns about his stance on abortion rights instead of the allegations. It also focuses on gun control issues in light of mass shootings, another issue that Democrats think can resonate with suburban voters.

Rep. Claudia Tenney in New York 22

Tenney is in one of the toughest congressional races in the country, where she's facing off against Democrat Anthony Brindisi, a member of the state Assembly. The district has a significant GOP registration advantage, and voted for President Trump by 15 points in 2016. But Brindisi had a narrow lead, within the margin of error, during last month's Siena College poll.

That poll also showed Brindisi with a 16-point advantage with female voters, and Tenney's newest ad makes an appeal directly to that constituency.

It includes a local woman talking about how Tenney called on former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign after revelations he quietly approved of a settlement payment to two women who accused an assemblyman of sexual harassment. And it links Brindisi to the former Democratic leader in the assembly.

Brindisi's own ads have highlighted his role in pushing for Silver to resign in 2015, when lawmakers ultimately pushed him out. But Tenney's camp clearly sees this as a way to both link the Democrat to a symbol of corruption in the state and argue she was out in front on opposition to him.

Richard Ojeda in West Virginia 03

Ojeda, the Democrat who is running a strong race in a deep-red district, is out with a fiery, direct-to-camera ad, where he blasts his GOP opponent, Carol Miller, by connecting her to the opioid epidemic. He criticizes her from accepting money from pharmaceutical companies and for owning stock in the McKesson Corporation, another pharmaceutical company that sells, among other drugs, opioids.

Andrew Gillum in Florida governor

Gillum's campaign is the latest among Democrats running television ads centered on protecting pre-existing conditions. His spot blisters Florida Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis for his support of the GOP's health care plan, which opponents warned could allow insurance companies to charge those with pre-existing conditions substantially more.

The arguments are a central part of Florida Democrats' new salvo against DeSantis—Gillum and his allies have been hitting the Republican on the issue in recent days.

DeSantis, like many other GOP candidates, has promised to protect those with pre-existing conditions and his campaign has brushed aside those criticisms.

Dave Brat in Virginia 07

In his tight, Richmond-area race for reelection, Brat is going for a lighter approach to win some votes. His new ad centers on a bill he wrote to halt painful medical testing on dogs, but it also includes a healthy number of good boys and girls.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news