Joe Sestak is on the air in Pennsylvania, and his first piece is a negative hit on Republican Pat Toomey that, in the grand tradition of the brilliant primary "Re-elected" spot, uses Toomey's own words against him. The ad shows Toomey on CNBC in 2007 saying -- twice, just like the Arlen Specter ad -- "The solution is to eliminate corporate taxes altogether."
Spokesman Jonathon Dworkin confirms that the ad was produced by The Campaign Group, the same folks that put together the Specter ad. In this case, the similarities are striking: Using the candidate's blunt words to describe something that fits Sestak's caricature of him. In Specter's case, it was the naked admission that he changed parties to save his own job. In this case, it's Toomey saying he doesn't think corporations should be taxed. That is included in the fine print of a couple of tax code simplification proposals Toomey has backed over the years -- the flat tax and the national sales tax -- but it's more powerful to hear him say it. Sestak is hoping that the anti-corporate, anti-Wall Street mood this year is stronger than the anti-Obama, anti-Democrat sentiment.
For Sestak to be on the air at this point in the campaign shows a couple of things: First, it's a calculation that Toomey has hijacked the campaign narrative so far, primarily through his use of paid media. Toomey and surrogate outside groups have been broadcasting statewide since early July, and the Republican consistently has held a polling lead in the 10-point range. Sestak held his fire until the final weeks during the primary -- "Re-elected" was unveiled with just two weeks to go -- and to go negative in the first ad, rather than a softer biographical spot, is a possible sign of desperation.
Then again, it's also a sign that the Sestak campaign believes it will have enough money to hit the airwaves for the next nine weeks. As of June 30, Sestak reported about $2 million in the bank (to Toomey's $4.65 million). He'll also have help from the DSCC, and look for some union spending in the race as well.
It's impossible to top -- or even match -- the resonance the "Re-elected" ad had, but let us know in the comments what you think of this little ditty below.
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