Call me a political cynic, but if this doesn’t scream ‘campaign commercial’, I don’t know what does.
Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who is not running for re-election, went on the air to defend his stance on rejecting a portion of the stimulus funds. If this isn’t throwing viral red meat to conservatives, I don’t know what is…
And it’s also a damn good idea.
UPDATE: I’m a big fan of Jim Geraghty’s Campaign Spot, but his analysis of the ad has it completely wrong.
Yes, the style is a bit like a campaign ad — Sanford’s extremely soft-spoken — but it’s not like the governor doesn’t have good reason to take to the airwaves and explain his position, a stance that Democrats want to portray as cruel and heartless.
Unfortunately, Jim doesn’t directly explain what that reason is. Could this ad possibly convince some South Carolinians that Sanford is making the right decision about rejecting some of the funds? Sure. But what effect would that have on anything? He doesn’t need public support to do what he’s doing. He has every right as Governor to reject the funds. Is it really worth 230k in distribution + production costs for an ad with no direct benefit? Sorry Jim, but politicians don’t make moves like this on principle. It just doesn’t happen.
The other thing is, this ad is only running in South Carolina. And you have to figure that if Sanford were to run, he would have the state wrapped up anyway.
Now here is where Jim is being particularly shortsighted. First, this assumes the spot was made just for South Carolinians. It wasn’t. Sanford knew this ad would go viral on popular conservative websites. And it did. Conservative bloggers and their commenters are talking about it, and that is a good thing for Mark Sanford. These are the kinds of people you want to influence when you’re 3 years out from the next Presidential primary. Hell, Jim…just the fact that you and the rest of NRO are talking about it proves the point.
Second, remember in 2008 how many campaign ads we saw on youtube that never made the television airwaves? The point of these ads was to help shape the message and give people something to talk about. This is the same kind of thing.
Finally, and built upon the previous two points, lately conservative activists have heard a lot about Sanford being one of the next great hopes. We’ve heard about what he stands for and what he’s doing for South Carolina — but many have never heard or seen him speak. This was an introduction to those activists. It provided them an opportunity to see a serious conservative communicating on a serious issue. Was it necessarily inspiring? No, but the topic doesn’t warrant grand eloquence.
Sorry, Jim. But I’ve gotta disagree with you on this one.
It’s a campaign ad.