Representative Ron Paul just answered my question about which Republican presidential candidate would be the first to go after the new front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry. A 60-second television commercial going up in Iowa and New Hampshire presents Paul as a longtime supporter of Ronald Reagan, in contrast to Perry, who backed Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign. I’ve posted the video and transcript below.
The new ad is called “Trust”:
My annotated transcript:
[camera pans over old photos of Ronald Reagan]
Male voice-over: The establishment called him “extreme” and “unelectable.” They said he was the wrong man for the job.
[view switches to a cropped photo of a young Ron Paul, then shows whole photo of him standing with Ronald Reagan]
It’s why a young Texan named Ron Paul was one of only four Congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan’s campaign for president, believing in Reagan’s message of smaller government and lower taxes. [view shifts to different photo of Reagan and Paul sitting together; Reagan is smiling while Paul speaks]
After Reagan, Senator Al Gore ran for president, [view shifts as if newsreel is scrolling to a black and white photo of Gore from the 1980s]
pledging to raise taxes and increase spending, pushing his liberal values. [camera pans back; Gore’s photo remains on left, black and white photos of damaged, abandoned buildings come into view on right]
And Al Gore found a cheerleader in Texas named Rick Perry [now camera pans over same Gore photo on left with an old Perry photo on right, also in black and white]
Rick Perry helped lead Al Gore’s campaign to undo the Reagan revolution, fighting to elect Al Gore president of the United States. [different black and white photo of Perry smiling and giving a “thumbs up” on left; different photo of Gore appears on right, resembles Gore’s official photo from his time as vice-president]
Now, America must decide who to trust: Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader, or the one who stood with Reagan. [view switches to full-color footage of American flag blowing in front of intersection of two streets; then silent footage of Rick Perry talking appears as voice says “Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader,” followed by a full-color photo of Paul appears as the voice says “the one who stood with Reagan.”]
Ron Paul: Restore America now. [screen shows gleaming “Ron Paul 2012: Restore America Now” logo against black background]
As in Paul’s previous tv ads, the production values are excellent. I’m surprised the official presidential campaign website isn’t on screen at the end of the commercial, but that’s a small point.
I love the double use of the word “cheerleader” in the script. That brings up mental associations with George W. Bush, the most famous Texas cheerleader ever. Perry’s operatives have tried to distance the current Texas governor from his predecessor. Many tea party Republicans view Bush negatively because he failed to shrink government.
Recent polls have shown Perry leading among Republicans who consider themselves aligned with the tea party movement. Paul is sometimes called the godfather of the tea party, so I can see why he made this his first punch against Perry. It can’t hurt to remind people that Paul was an anti-establishment Republican who was ahead of his time in the 1970s and 1980s.
An accompanying press release from the Paul campaign mentions, “Congressman Paul was one of only four Congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan against incumbent Gerald Ford and lead the Texas delegation for Reagan to the 1976 Republican National Convention.” Incidentally, Paul had just been elected to Congress for the first time in a special election. He lost that seat in the 1976 general election, but won it back in 1978.
I wonder how many Americans even remember that Reagan challenged an incumbent president in 1976. Reagan had much more establishment support during his successful presidential campaign in 1980, but even then, many Republicans worried that Reagan was too extreme to win a general election.
I could quibble with the way the commercial depicts Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign. On domestic and foreign policy issues, Gore was clearly the conservative Democrat in that primary, which is why he attracted a lot of support from southern Democrats. The Al Gore of the past decade has sounded more liberal than he did as vice-president and much more liberal than he did as a U.S. senator from Tennessee during the 1980s.
That distinction will be lost on tea party Republicans who think Barack Obama of all people is “socialist.” I’m curious to see how Perry will respond; will he try to explain that Gore wasn’t so liberal in 1988? Or will he admit to being misguided at the time? He’ll need to have an answer in time for Thursday’s Republican presidential debate.
The Paul campaign announced today,
The ad will appear in both broadcast and web format, with substantial air-time buys in New Hampshire and Iowa. The spot will also be sent to multiple conservative and TEA Party email lists and appear in banner ads across the internet.
What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Is this an effective message against Perry?
UPDATE: In the comments, ragbrai08 notes that Perry has answered the Gore question before, saying that his 1988 candidate “was Al Gore before he invented the Internet and got to be Mr. Global Warming.”
Meanwhile, Perry’s presidential campaign spokesperson Mark Miner questioned today why Paul sharply criticized Reagan toward the end of Reagan’s presidency. The Perry campaign posted a letter Paul wrote to the Republican National Committee chairman in 1987, explaining why he was switching to the Libertarian Party. The letter cited tax increases and growth in federal government spending under Reagan’s leadership.
Here’s a good chart listing the tax cuts and tax increases enacted while Reagan was president.