Latham knows this will be a big Democratic year

If you were a loyal Republican foot-soldier seeking re-election in a state that’s trending Democratic, where the Democratic presidential candidate has a commanding lead over your party’s nominee as well as a much bigger ground game in your own Congressional district, you might want to reinvent yourself.

Late last week, Tom Latham did just that in his first television commercial of this election cycle. You can view the ad at Latham’s campaign website. It focuses on a bill Latham introduced to address the nursing shortage in Iowa.

Judging from the content of this ad, Latham recognizes that 2008 will be a big Democratic year in Iowa.

Neither the commercial nor the campaign’s accompanying press release (which I’ve posted after the jump) mention that Latham is a Republican. Instead, they note that he authored “bipartisan legislation” in a specific area.

Polls typically give Democrats an edge on handling health care and education. Even someone watching this ad with the sound turned down can see that Latham is portraying himself as sensitive to these issues. Here are the words that flash on the screen during the commercial:

Nursing Shortage (footage of ambulance with siren, nurse alongside patient on stretcher)

Iowa Faces Severe Nursing Shortage (hospital scenes)

Bipartisan Legislation (Latham sitting and writing)

Help Nurses Repay Education Loans (nurse with patients)

Tom Latham (as he talks with one of the nurses quoted in the ad)

In addition, Latham’s ad features three testimonials from nurses. One of them is “nurse practitioner Linda Upmeyer,” wearing a white nurse’s coat with a stethoscope around her neck, who says, “Tom has done a wonderful job of hearing the need and translating that into legislation.” Conveniently, the ad fails to identify Upmeyer as the Republican state representative from Iowa House district 12.  

The press release announcing Latham’s television ad is even more blatant about running away from the Republican label. It describes Latham as “bipartisan” twice and notes that he “teamed up with Wisconsin Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to introduce this bill in the United States Congress.”

I never thought I’d see the day when the conservative Republican Latham would brag about working with Baldwin, who is openly gay and has one of the most progressive voting records in Congress. Latham’s voting record as a whole could hardly be more different from Baldwin’s.

Not only does Latham’s ad avoid mentioning his party affiliation, it seems designed to address the gender gap by having a female voice-over and three women nurses do almost all of the talking. The only male voice you hear is Latham’s at the very end, saying “I’m Tom Latham, and I approved this message.”

Democratic candidates tend to do better among women, and the disparity may be even greater this year in IA-04. Becky Greenwald is giving Iowans the chance to send a woman to Congress for the first time.

One clever feature of this ad is that it implies Latham has delivered for Iowa’s nurses, without mentioning whether the bill he authored has any chance of becoming law. The wording of the press release suggests that the bill has not advanced:

Latham teamed up with Iowa nursing and health care professionals through numerous roundtables around the state to listen to their unique perspective and input on what was needed. He then wrote legislation and teamed up with Wisconsin Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to introduce the bill in the United States Congress.

You would think that someone who spent 14 years in Congress (12 of them as part of a Republican majority) would be able to point to some concrete achievement on behalf of nurses or in the area of health care.

Instead, the Latham campaign talks about his “trusted leadership” on the nursing shortage, when he has nothing to show for this “leadership” other than writing one bill that went nowhere.

By the way, Latham signaled last week that he is not willing to defend the totality of his record in a public forum. He declined an invitation from KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register to debate Greenwald during prime-time television. Latham also refused invitations to debate in August.

In a debate, Latham might have to explain why he talks about helping nurses repay their student loans in his commercial, when he voted for enormous cuts to federal student loan programs in 2005 and 2006.

As a challenger, Greenwald has lower name recognition than Latham, and understandably used her first television ad to introduce herself to voters. With Latham avoiding debates and using skillful image construction to conceal his ineffectiveness, I believe Greenwald will need to run some television ads that spell out why she is seeking to replace “Iowa’s low-yield Congressman.”

Press release from Latham for Congress

Press Release | September 19, 2008

New Ad Highlights Tom Latham’s Trusted Leadership For Iowa On Health Care & Nursing Crisis

Ames, IA – Iowa Congressman Tom Latham’s campaign launched their second ad of the 2008 campaign today with a television ad highlighting Latham’s bi-partisan work to solve Iowa’s nursing shortage crisis.

The thirty second ad, titled Trusted Leadership, highlights the crisis threatening the quality of health care of all Iowans and includes testimonials by nursing professionals on the trusted leadership Tom Latham has taken to provide a comprehensive long-term solution to the problem both in Iowa and the nation.

Iowa has a nursing shortage of over eight percent according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. That number is expected to jump to 27 percent in just over a decade. Nationally there is a shortage of more than 200,000 registered nurses-a number that is projected to grow to over one million by the year 2020.

Latham teamed up with Iowa nursing and health care professionals through numerous roundtables around the state to listen to their unique perspective and input on what was needed. He then wrote legislation and teamed up with Wisconsin Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to introduce the bill in the United States Congress.

Latham’s effort has been endorsed by 44 nursing organizations in the United States, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

“Tom has done a wonderful job of hearing the need and translating that into legislation,” notes Iowa nurse practitioner Linda Upmeyer in the ad.

“These are serious times in America and Iowa families want proven leaders with real experience and an approach to problem-solving they can trust,” said Latham for Congress campaign manager Matt Hinch. “The choice is clear. One candidate in this race offers voters daily partisan attacks and no solutions to their concerns. Congressman Latham offers a proven record of listening to the needs of Iowans and working hard to find common sense solutions. The trusted bipartisan leadership that Congressman Latham provides is why Iowans will vote to keep Tom Latham working for them on November 4th.”

The ad can be seen at the Latham for Congress campaign’s official website:

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  • Lathams voting record

    He has voted with GW Bush 94% of the time.  If you like the Iraq occupation then vote for Latham.  If you like defecit spending then vote for Latham.  If you like $4.00 a gallon gas and want to see it higher than vote for Latham.  If you like seeing the rich get richer while we get the bills then vote for Latham.  If you like pollution then vote for Latham.  He doesn’t really have a lot of legislative accomplishments.  Despite being in the Majority party for tweleve of his fourteen years in Congress.

    Latham claims to be bipartisan.  He is not he is just a stooge for the neocons.  He doesn’t vote for the people of this district is not our friend.

  • Look out, here they come

    Around here, (“here” being the northern reaches of the 4th district), there’s been some duck hunting going on.  Apparently it’s troll season in Bleeding Heartland.  William Meyers has more noms de kiborde than Elizabeth Taylor had husbands.  Get over it, dear.  You scored some points but You Lost.  Just.   Stop.

    Tom Latham is a nondescript backbencher who suddenly realizes he’s in trouble with all those votes for whatever Bush wanted.  I look for him to be running an ad soon showing him running through a sunny cornfield, his hair blown back, holding his arms out to…

    Barack Obama.