By Dustin Hurst ǀ Watchdog.org
HELENA — Montana’s television airtime is cheap and several candidates and outside spending groups are taking advantage of prices to flood the state television sets ahead of November’s general election.
The ads continue to hit on core themes, with Republicans and conservative outside spending groups continually tying Montana Democrats to President Barack Obama, a figure with a dismal 34 percent approval rating in the state. Democrats paint Republicans, specifically U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, as out of touch with average Treasure State residents.
Here’s a rundown of some new ads this week.
Denny Rehberg – visions
It’s the claim Rehberg and the Montana Republican Party love to repeat: Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, in his first Senate term, votes Obama’s way 95 percent of the time. Rehberg’s latest ad hits on that theme again, displaying two picture of Obama talking with Tester multiple times throughout the 30-second spot.
The damning element, however, might be Tester’s own words used against him. Rehberg’s team included a clip of Tester saying in 2006 that he thinks “Barack brings the kind of vision for this country that we need.”
Patriot Majority – MEANS
Patriot Majority, a front group for the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union, released an ad this week slamming Rehberg on comments he made in 1996 about the Social Security system.
“When I talk about ending Social Security as we know it, I do mean that,” Rehberg says in the ad.
The commercial continues ripping Rehberg, saying the congressman would cut benefits and privatize social security if he wins the U.S. Senate seat.
The spot fails to mention Rehberg favors preserving benefits for those already dependent on Social Security or those who would shortly join the rolls, but reforming the program for younger generations.
Republican Governors Association – The Real Steve Bullock
Pundits nationwide dub Montana as a state that could flip its governor’s mansion from blue to red after popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, leaves office at year’s end. Former Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Hill opposes Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock in the gubernatorial race.
Coming to Hill’s aid, the Republican Governors Association invokes Obama to scare voters to the Republican’s side. The group says Bullock refused to join in an effort to sue the federal government over Obama’s federal health care reform. At the time, Bullock said he believed the effort to be without merit. The challenge, brought by 26 states and a small business association, ultimately failed in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Still, the RGA says Bullock’s unwillingness to fight the health law aligns him with Obama.
Democratic Governors Association – Complicated
Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association sees Bullock’s election as a top priority and wants to keep the governor’s mansion blue. Their anti-Hill ad slams the Republican as a tax-raising, Medicare-cutting lobbyist and insurance executive.
The ad also paints Hill as anti-women, saying he wants to allow companies to raise health coverage rates for women.
Crossroads GPS – get up
Of course, a week in Montana politics wouldn’t be complete without Crossroads GPS, the conservative outside spending group linked to former George. W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, inserting itself into the U.S. Senate race.
The group’s latest ad hits Tester on the national debt and his votes for the stimulus package and the health reform package.
Contact Dustin Hurst via email at Dustin@Watchdog.org.