Thursday, April 9, 2009

2012's first GOP campaign commercial.

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.


  1. Nice clear message. It might be useful to make it clear that it's a constitutional priority listed in the Preamble that one goal of our nation is to preserve liberty to our future generations. Enslaving future generations to pay for current screwups is unconstitutional.

  2. Just to play devil's advocate.... You claim that, because Sanford is not running for governor in 2010 and because the statehouse can't directly block his action, the only reason he would make the commercial is for the 2012 presidential race.

    However, there are other reasons for making this ad. First, Sanford still has roughly 21 months to go in his term. If he wants to avoid becoming a lame duck, he needs to be able to explain his actions convincingly to the electorate. (Ask W about how fun it is to govern when your approval ratings are in the toilet, even if you can't run for re-election.)

    As a side effect, this also helps shore up the Republican party in South Carolina and maintains Sanford's political viability in case he wants to run for office down the road. (For example, presuming the governor elected in 2010 is a Democrat, Sanford might want to run against them in 2014, when he is no longer term limited.)

    (There are strong reasons to think that Sanford will run for President in 2012. First, he will be out of office, and there isn't another office he can run for until 2014 at the earliest. Both of South Carolina's U.S. senators are Republican, so if they don't retire and Sanford's replacement as governor is also a Republican, there won't be a slot open for Sanford to run again until 2018.... This means that, unless he wants to retire from politics, the only game in town is the Presidency....)


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