[dropcap]c[/dropcap]onservative Super PAC Americans for Prosperity released a positive ad into the teacup tempest of the Colorado Senate race on Wednesday titled “Rep. Cory Gardner: Fighting for Common Sense Solutions.” The ad follows a dust-up surrounding AFP Colorado’s last buy, an attack on incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall for supporting the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare. The ad included an image of Udall and President Obama taken in a Denver hospital after the Aurora Theater massacre, which drew potent critique from the left and from those who’d lost family members in the shooting.
The new ad, which takes a distinctly positive spin and says nothing at all about Udall, appeals to viewer-voters by acknowledging that it’s “tough to make ends meet.” It then pivots to Gardner’s support for for jobs and the economy as demonstrated by his support for the Keystone Pipeline. Over images of an oil and gas worker pacing pipes beneath a crystal clear blue sky and another being buffeted by a very Colorado gust, the ad tells us that the pipeline will “create new, high-paying energy jobs.”
Part and parcel with its sunny, smiling optimism, the ad is cleverly structured to accomplish two timely political moves. The ad shows us Denver’s urban skyline, a pair of ambiguously Hispanic and/or white parents discussing what seems like a bill while two children play in their living room, and actions of sun and wind over oil and gas installations. The idea here is to get voters associating Gardner with the pleasures of Colorado’s recent natural gas boom, namely a rapidly growing urban core with manageable energy bills.
The other major move is to create a point of contrast in what’s already become a pretty ugly race dominated by lots of lefty groups with and without big money throwing lots of shade at Gardner. Instead of hearing that flack — “Gardner takes big oil money from the same people as AFP,” “Gardner flipped on personhood but then not even, really,” and “Gardner has a bad LGBT voting record,” — we’re encouraged to hear “Gardner is nice and people are thanking him,” and, sub-textually, “Udall and friends are a big old meanies.”
The ad also touts Gardner’s votes and positions as a more conservative member of the Republican-controlled House. Gardner “voted to balance the budget,” says the ad, referring us to the budget put forward this spring by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, a proposal that would cut taxes and spending on social programs, repeal the healthcare law and maintain most funding for defense. The highly partisan measure, which aims to balance the budget within 10 years, passed with every House Democrat and 12 Republicans voting against it.
The ad concludes: “Cory stood against Obamacare and for real healthcare reform.” Unlike its mention of Gardner’s budget vote, however, the ad makes no bill references to what replacement measures the Congressman may have supported after many votes to repeal the health care law.