Ron Paul's second tv ad and Iowa campaign roundup

Representative Ron Paul launched his presidential campaign's second television commercial today. The 60-second spot contrasts Paul with "smooth-talking politicians" from both political parties, including his three strongest rivals for the Republican nomination.

Like his first television commercial, Paul's new ad is filmed in the style of a movie preview. "The One" will air in Iowa and New Hampshire:

My annotated transcript:

[Ad begins with white all-caps lettering on green background, as in a movie preview: THE FOLLOWING PREVIEW HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR ALL AUDIENCES BY RESTORE AMERICA NOW     Restore America Now

After a few seconds the image changes to a sunrise behind the Statue of Liberty, with the words BALANCED BUDGET PRODUCTIONS IN ASSOCIATION WITH RON PAUL]

Male voice-over, in style of movie preview: It's the story of a lost city, lost opportunity, lost hope. [footage of Washington, DC at night; a vacant storefront, a sad woman looking out of a window with bars]

A story of failed policies, failed leadership. [footage of White House]

A story of smooth-talking politicians [visual flashes from Texas Governor Rick Perry to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to President Barack Obama, words on screen SMOOTH TALKING POLITICIANS]

games of "he said, she said" [behind the words HE SAID, footage of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on left, Rick Perry on right; behind the words SHE SAID, footage of Representative Michele Bachmann on left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on right]

rhetoric and division [behind the words RHETORIC and DIVISION, storm clouds gather above the White House]

One man has stood apart [gleaming silver words against night sky backdrop: ONE MAN HAS STOOD APART]

stood strong and true [Paul seems to be walking toward lit stage at large event]

voting against every tax increase [gleaming words against night sky: VOTING AGAINST EVERY TAX INCREASE]

every unbalanced budget, every time [words change to VOTING AGAINST EVERY UNBALANCED BUDGET EVERY TIME]

standing up to the Washington machine, guided by principle [Paul stands at podium before large cheering, sign-waving crowd]

Ron Paul: the one who will stop the spending, save the dollar, create jobs, bring peace. [Paul speaks to crowd from podium]

The one who will restore liberty. [gleaming words against night sky: THE ONE]

Ron Paul: the one who can beat Obama and restore America now. [Crowd applauds wildly after Paul's speech; then RON PAUL 2012 RESTORE AMERICA NOW is against black background]

Paul's voice: I'm Ron Paul, and I approved this message. [Paul exiting stage, crowd still cheering]

This ad doesn't look as strong to me as Paul's "compromise or conviction" ad from last month (video and transcript here).

Republicans mocked the messianic imagery from Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, so touting Paul as "THE ONE" seems dicey. I see the advantages of elevating the candidate above Washington game-playing. In some ways that's less phony than candidates who fall all over themselves to prove they're down to earth or "one of us." But Paul already has a reputation for attracting an enthusiastic, almost cultish following. I don't think this larger than life, movie star ad helps him.

I also have a problem with the ad visually. The images change quickly, and names aren't attached to the faces in the ad. I wonder how many voters will recognize the supposedly un-Paul-like "smooth-talking politicians," especially Rick Perry.

Launching a new tv ad now signals that Paul wants to build on his strong showing at the Iowa GOP's August 13 straw poll. Paul finished less than 1 percent behind Bachmann despite giving away fewer tickets to the event. He received more votes than Mitt Romney did in 2007, the year he won the Ames straw poll. Yet Paul's achievement was overshadowed by Perry entering the race and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty quitting over the weekend. The Sunday morning talk shows paid almost no attention to Paul.

The media blackout inspired a funny bit on Jon Stewart's Daily Show and this commentary by Roger Simon:

I admit I do not fully understand Ron Paul and his beliefs. But I do understand when a guy gets shafted, and Ron Paul just got shafted. [...]

[A]ny fair assessment of Ames [...] would have said the winds of the Republican Party are blowing toward both Bachmann and Paul. [...] why didn't Paul get the same credit for his organizational abilities as Bachmann did for hers? [...]

"It is hard for them to accept," Paul said of his showing at Ames. "I had one interview scheduled for this morning, a national program, but they canceled. It is shocking to be told nobody wants you."

Was this because technically Paul came in second and not first? I don't think so. Four years ago, Mike Huckabee came in a bad second to Romney, losing by 13.4 percentage points. Huckabee managed to spin that into a victory at Ames and became a media darling.

But Paul almost wins the thing and he remains poison.

"They [the media] believe this guy is dangerous to the status quo," Paul said, "but that is a reason to be more energized. I am a bit more challenging, but I am not on the wrong track. I don't think that my ideas are more exotic. They are threatening."

In his interview with me, Paul stressed his "peace" message - he wants our troops brought home from foreign soil - and believes that and his fiscal conservatism will gain him supporters.

"We are trying to reverse 100 years of history, the change from a republic to an empire, the change to tax and spending, who wants to admit that?" Paul said. "Who wants to admit we don't have to be policeman of the world?"

On the other side, Steve Kornacki argued that Paul "is not getting screwed" by the mainstream media:

Now let's talk about Paul, who also put a major effort into the straw poll. But unlike Bachmann and Pawlenty, he didn't really have much to prove. Why? Because the political world already knows that Paul has an army of unusually loyal and dedicated supporters who are willing to show up in large numbers at events like the straw poll and producing impressive-seeming vote totals for their candidate. They've been doing this for years now. Remember when Paul won the straw poll at the 2010 CPAC conference? Or in 2011? His supporters are very good at this kind of thing, channeling their unique passion into "money bombs," Internet poll victories, and strong performances at straw polls and other events where a devoted minority can have an outsize influence.

So by nabbing 27.65 percent on Saturday, Paul didn't actually do anything to change the prevailing perception of his campaign and its appeal. Bachmann and Pawlenty faced legitimate questions about their ability to effectively organize for the straw poll. But no one doubted the Paul campaign's skills in this regard. The key question about Paul's campaign is one that the straw poll was never going to help answer: Can he build on his sizable (but ultimately limited) base of core supporters and develop mass appeal within the Republican Party?

In his 2008 campaign, he was unable to do this. Think back to the later months of 2007, when Paul stunned the political world by raising more money than any of the other Republican candidates. No one was quite sure what to make of it. Paul was supposed to be a niche candidate with no chance, but he wasn't raising niche candidate money. Was something revolutionary taking place? The answer came when the primary and caucus season began and Paul performed ... like a niche candidate. He grabbed 10 percent in Iowa, good for fifth place, and 8 percent in New Hampshire, another fifth-place showing, and that was pretty much it. The media filed this under lesson learned: Paul's supporters could make a lot of noise -- but it was misleading noise.

Kornacki's points are valid, but I am in the the "Paul is getting screwed" camp. His decent fundraising and campaign organization may not be top-tier, but he is running a substantive campaign and articulating unique (for a Republican) views, especially on foreign affairs.

"Right now, we have a foreign policy, if they agree with us we give them money.  If they disagree with us, we drop bombs on them," Paul said.  "I say let's have another alternative.  Let's neither give them money, nor drop bombs on them.  Do what the Founders said.  Trade with them, talk with them and try to be friends with everybody.  That is, I believe, the way we can reach both peace and prosperity."

All of the GOP presidential candidates say the same things about abortion rights, tax increases, "Obamacare" and a wide range of issues. Paul expresses inconvenient facts, such as: wars of choice have contributed to our federal deficits and debt. Paul is wrong about the gold standard, in my opinion, but why not give him an opportunity to explain his views to a wider audience?

To me, the issue isn't whether Paul has as strong a chance to win the nomination as Romney, Bachmann or Perry. I don't think political journalists should ignore even second-tier candidates who have something to contribute to the national discussion. I felt the same way when Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson received minimal media coverage during the last Democratic presidential campaign, and they were overexposed compared to Paul. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is barely a blip in opinion polls but is beloved by beltway journalists. In the past few months, Newt Gingrich has received way more attention from journalists than Paul despite having zero chance of becoming the Republican nominee.

Digression: how do you like Gingrich "campaigning" in Hawaii this weekend, right around the date of his wedding anniversary? The man has a good racket going.

Back to Paul: he deserves more media attention than he's been getting. I disagree with Maggie Haberman, who says Paul "might be grateful for the minimalist coverage that he's received, because a more thorough vetting" would bring up racist newsletters he published 20 years ago. Few if any Republican primary voters will care about those newsletters.

On the ground in Iowa, I am curious to see whether Paul can improve on his current level of support. I don't recall any Iowa elected officials backing him before the 2008 caucuses. Already this year three Iowa House Republicans have endorsed his campaign: Glen Massie, Kim Pearson and Jason Schultz. Story County Republican Party Chair Cory Adams also spoke out for Paul a few weeks before the Ames straw poll.

"I try to go for the candidates that line up mostly with the values, the principles of the [nation's] founders," Adams said. "Out of all the candidates in this cycle, I found Ron Paul to be the one with the longest, most consistent voting record to back up those principles and concepts."

How might Adams' endorsement help Paul with voters?

Adams explained: "Back in 2008 there were a lot of people within the Republican Party that kind of disregarded Congressman Paul. And basically didn't just count him in and/or wouldn't even mention him. So when you can have a county chair who is part of the Republican Party, part of the establishment and support him, it gives him more credibility within the party and brings him back from the fringe."

Adams explained that some voters previously labeled Paul "a whack job, fringe candidate" - and that his and other endorsements from mainstream Iowa Republicans could help change that.

I don't expect Paul to pick up any influential Republicans previously aligned with Tim Pawlenty (look for an opportunistic flight to Perry), but a lot of county chairs, state legislators and activists have yet to pick a candidate.

Any comments about Paul's campaign or the Republican presidential field are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Paul's second-place showing was more impressive than Mike Huckabee's four years ago for a couple of other reasons. Huckabee was only a few hundred votes ahead of Sam Brownback, but Paul had about twice as many votes as Tim Pawlenty on Saturday.

Also, Huckabee got lots of help from Americans for Fair Taxation in 2007. That group was estimated to have spent around $150,000 busing supporters to Ames for Huckabee, the only candidate in the race to support the so-called "fair tax." Without the hundreds of people they brought to the poll, Huckabee could well have ended up in third place. No outside group spent heavily this year to mobilize straw poll voters for Paul.

  • Like to read commentary about "Iowa"?

    The meat is in the submitted commentary which follows the article.

    And rb08, methinks you're seeing sexism where it isn't. Crazy is crazy whether it's in a woman or a man. If anything, it's your "YOU-GO-GIRL!" (as I perceived it from your comment) attitude that is the sexist one. Y'otta direct that into making Clinton the first woman President, not this modern-day inquisitor.

    • I don't think she is crazy

      I think she is good at seeing opportunities and taking them. There is almost no daylight between her and most of the other presidential candidates on any issue of substance.

  • Crazy behavior cont:

    I see that BACHMANN has made a campaign promise of $2.00 gas under her administration after she gets elected.

    Also Christine ODonnell walked off a TV studio set during an interview when the interviewer asked her about her view on gay marriage.

    Both of those are stories this morning over on TAEGAN GODDARDS POLITICAL WIRE. The ODonnell story there is the actual video of the event.

    • unrealistic campaign promises

      are not evidence that someone is "crazy." Pawlenty submitted a plan to balance the budget that assumed ridiculous GDP growth, etc.

      • This ain't a debate class

        dmd, this is the Internet for crying out loud and a blog at that. Sure it's yours, but even the owner ought understand that crazy in this thread is not referring to "crazy" but rather to goofy or batty. Besides, crazy as in crazy isn't PC in this day and age and hardly anyone ever publicly refers to a mental illness as crazy these days.

        • are you telling me

          that many liberals/progressives/commentators are NOT suggesting that Bachmann is mentally ill? If so, you and I disagree. Republican men who agree with her on just about every policy issue are not routinely described as "batsh*t crazy," and magazines don't print cover photos of them with "crazy eyes."

          The same goes for Kim Pearson, who is more often called "crazy" than the many Iowa House Republican men who share her views.

          • Valid point

            Look at Kay Granger and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Kay Granger, Shelly Capito, Lisa Murkowski and many other women in Congress who have more socially conservative constituents than Kim Pearson or possibly Bachmann does.  The list I mentioned above is at least rhetorically pro-choice on several issues and certainly more sympathetic to a poor woman who may need Medicaid in order to get pre-natal vitamins.  I also don't see the list I mentioned above railing against nanny services for poor women who have to work to get back on their feet.

            Condi Rice is a brilliant person and regardless of whether people like her, she would have given nuanced answers to the issues of the day.  Palin and Bachmann serve up platitudes, that's why they are acceptable to hard line conservatives.  

            Pearson seems to view anything to help her district as an unnecessary expenditure or corporate welfare.  The people I listed above will at least advocate for their districts/states, whether it makes for "good" fiscal policy or not.  

          • No, I'm not telling you what you just suggested

            Without literally reading back thru this entire thread I'll go out on a limb and say that it was me who started the "crazy" line of commentary. If it really was me then, I don't use the word crazy with it's old literal meaning and I guess I supposed that no one else does either these days. It's just a good catch-all word in the same vein as perhaps, loony, screwy, or even batshit- crazy. Not mentally ill crazy.

            OK now that said, I am really in no position to be discussing with younger women about what they perceive as sexism. I am of retired age and I am a product of my generation and the cultures of the neighborhoods where I grew up, not to mention the military culture I served in where the "old" troops were all WWII vets. That adds up to my being an unapologetic old chauvinist.

            As to your point, I'm wise enough to realize that to any individual, perception is reality, so I won't tell you that what you see is not what might actually be.

            • My last paragraph


              "As to your point, I'm wise enough to realize that to any individual, perception is reality, so I won't tell you that what you see is not what might actually be."

              would have read closer to what I had intended had I written it this way:


              As to your point, I'm wise enough to realize that to any individual, perception is reality, so I [wouldn't say to] you that what you see is not what might actually be.



      • Pawlenty's numbers may have been unrealistic....

        I think we need some optimism in this country even if it's fake optimism.  If you watch any of the news channels these days, you'd think Doomsday was upon us.  If people could just start thinking positively again that would give a boost to the economy.  Not all of FDR's programs seemed to work, but he showed that he cared and people plowed on in some very bleak times.  

        I was a little disappointed that Pawlenty ran as far to the right as he did, I knew he had to, but I was looking for a hint of populism.  He sucked up to the free trade at any cost, free market fundamentalists however.  

        • but he was using fake optimism

          to make it seem like his budget numbers added up. They didn't. You can't pass a bunch of new tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations and count on revenues to increase because of a magic pony economic boom.

          I agree with you that media coverage can lead to unjustified gloom and doom. Research has repeatedly shown that people think crime is increasing, even though the crime rate has been going down for years. In the mid-1990s public opinion polls showed people believed the deficit was growing, even though it was shrinking fast.  

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