IA-03: Latham on tv with attack on attack ads

Nine-term Republican Representative Tom Latham started running a new television commercial in Iowa’s new third Congressional district last week. The spot is a response to a negative commercial that the House Majority PAC is running against Latham. Within days, that Democratic super-PAC responded with yet another ad about Latham. Follow me after the jump for videos and transcripts.

The House Majority PAC ran its first anti-Latham commercial in IA-03 a few weeks ago and appears likely to be a regular presence here in the coming months. Latham has raised far more money than his IA-03 opponent, eight-term Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell.

Last week House Majority PAC launched its second anti-Latham commercial, called “Headlines”:

My transcript:

Male voice-over: Over 93,000 Iowans unemployed [against backdrop of unidentified city street, headline from Des Moines Register on 3/26/10 appears: Iowa Unemployment Reaches 23-Year High]

but Tom Latham joined obstructionist Republicans who refused to extend unemployment benefits until tax cuts were given to millionaires. [Photo of smiling Latham appears next to smiling House Speaker John Boehner, with Capitol in background. Then headline from New York Times editorial on 11/28/10 appears: The Unemployed Held Hostage Again]

And Latham voted to essentially end Medicare [photo of Latham stays on screen, with quote from Wall Street Journal of 4/4/11: “essentially end Medicare”]

turning Medicare over to private insurance companies [visual switches to woman doctor seeing elderly patient in office, with quote from Des Moines Register on 6/12/11 near bottom of screen: Turning Medicare over to private insurance companies]

Seniors would be forced to pay six thousand four hundred dollars more. [Visual switches to photo of man and woman standing in front of farm buildings, with quote from St. Petersburg Times newspaper on 4/22/11: “seniors would have to pay $6,400 more”]

Tom Latham? He’s just plain wrong for Iowa. [Photo of Latham’s smiling face against backdrop of Capitol. Words on screen: TOM LATHAM WRONG FOR IOWA]

The House Majority PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Like the first House Majority PAC commercial in Iowa, this one has a cookie-cutter look and feel.

Latham’s campaign grabbed a few screen shots from it for the Republican incumbent’s latest commercial. “Hiding Boswell’s Record” debuted last week.

My transcript:

Female voice-over: The election is nine months away, [visual shows calendar with pages flipping from September 2012 to October and November, with election day circled on the November page. Words on screen: The election is 9 months away]

but already Leonard Boswell’s Washington allies are attacking Tom Latham. [Photo of Boswell speaking and pointing appears on left side of screen. On right side, a large tv shows images from the House Majority PAC’s commercials, including the quote “seniors would have to pay $6,400 more.” Near bottom of screen, words appear: Boswell’s Washington allies attack Tom Latham]

Independent fact-checkers call the attack against Latham, quote, “the lie of the year.” [Different Boswell photo appears on right side of screen. At the top, the viewer sees the words “Boswell’s Washington Allies” superimposed on Politifact’s December 20 article calling “Republicans voted to end Medicare” the lie of the year. The words “Lie of the Year” float out to catch viewer’s attention]

Boswell’s allies attack Latham to hide Boswell’s record [photo of Boswell next to photo of Capitol]

of voting to cut Medicare by 500 billion dollars [photo of Boswell remains on screen, backdrop shifts to woman pushing an elderly person down a hallway in a wheelchair. Words on screen: Boswell’s Record: Voted to cut Medicare by $500 Billion]

and his votes for trillions in new spending. [backdrop behind Boswell’s photo shifts to pile of $100 bills spread out in a fan. Words on screen: Boswell’s Record: Voted for trillions in new spending]

Iowans deserve a real campaign about issues, [visual shifts to old-fashioned tv against cement-block wall, with tv screen showing graphic from House Majority PAC spot on “Iowa Unemployment Reaches 23-year High.” Near top of screen are these words: Iowans deserve a campaign about issues…]

not more attacks. [tv switches off, words “Not more attacks” appear at bottom of screen.]

Latham’s voice: I’m Tom Latham, and I approved this message. [visual of Latham speaking with unidentified man, with Latham for Congress logo and TomLatham.com on screen.]

Like the House Majority PAC’s effort, this ad is generic in style and content. There’s nothing innovative about slipping some attacks on your opponent into a commercial lambasting your opponent’s negative campaign.

The vote to cut Medicare by $500 million was a frequent motif of 2010 campaign advertising by Boswell’s opponent Brad Zaun and by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That claim refers to Boswell’s vote for the 2010 health insurance reform bill.

Politifact’s “lie of the year” article will be featured in scores of commercials by Republican candidates and their interest group allies. I disagree with its premise, because replacing Medicare’s current structure with a voucher system for tomorrow’s retirees would in fact “end Medicare as we know it.”

To me, the most interesting thing about Latham’s commercial was that his campaign gave a Politico reporter the early scoop rather than taking the story to an Iowa journalist. The Des Moines Register’s editorial board has a low opinion of Latham, endorsing even the longest of long-shot challengers to the Republican.

Last Friday, House Majority PAC posted yet another IA-03 ad, “Bad Idea,” on YouTube. I haven’t seen this yet on television, and I will update this post if I can get any details on where it’s running. (An unnamed Republican source told Politico that Latham’s campaign made a “significant” buy to run its commercial.)

My transcript:

Male voice-over: The Des Moines Register calls Tom Latham’s plan to turn Medicare over to private insurance companies “a bad idea.” [Latham’s smiling face appears near the bottom of the screen, under words from an editorial on 6/12/11: “The Des Moines Register calls Tom Latham’s plan to turn Medicare over to private insurance companies” View then zooms in to fragment of DMR editorial that reads, “It’s a bad idea.”]

It would “essentially end Medicare.” [Latham’s face remains at bottom, words on screen “essentially end Medicare” Source: Wall Street Journal, 4/11/11]

Seniors would be forced to pay six thousand four hundred dollars more [view shifts to older couple looking wistfully into distance, words from the St. Petersburg Times’ report of 4/22/11 appear on screen, zooming in on “about $6,400 more”]

So, Tom Latham can run all the ads he wants trying to hide his record. [Screenshot of calendar with election day circled at the beginning of Latham’s tv ad on left side of screen, Tom Latham’s smiling face on right, below words “Don’t believe Tom Latham’s ads.”]

But we know the facts. Tom Latham: he’s wrong for Medicare, and he’s just plain wrong for Iowa. [Latham’s smiling face now appears against backdrop of Capitol. Words on screen: Tom Latham Wrong for Medicare. Wrong for Iowa.

The House Majority PAC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Nothing new here, just a signal from the House Majority PAC that they are ready to respond to whatever Latham throws up on television. My hunch is that none of these ads will leave a strong impression on voters. Then again, Latham has always kept a fairly low profile, so maybe it’s worth it for the Democratic super-PAC to try to introduce him to IA-03 voters in an unfavorable light.

Any comments about the third Congressional district race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Ali Lapp of the House Majority PAC told me by e-mail that their commercials are running on broadcast and cable networks in the Des Moines and Omaha markets. She said Latham’s campaign is on broadcast networks only in both markets, but I haven’t been able to confirm that with the Republican’s staff.

  • these ads suck

    How much direct interaction (debates, forums) do you anticipate?

    • agree, they're not good ads

      I think people will just tune out or change the channel.

      In the past, Latham and Boswell have done about as little debating as they could get away with. I recall that Latham held two radio debates with Becky Greenwald in 2008 and one with Bill Maske in 2010. Boswell refused to debate his primary challenger in 2008, and I don’t recall him debating his Republican opponent that year either. I am pretty sure he only debated Brad Zaun once in 2010. So I would guess that neither side would be looking for lots of direct interaction.

    • just found out

      that both Boswell and Latham have been invited to address a Feb 23 forum on the 2012 federal farm bill, hosted by the Izaak Walton League in Des Moines.  

  • house majority pac

    just saw house majority pac’s response ad this morning on how latham is against medicare and is lying in his ads.  has there been any polls released for this race yet?  interested to see where latham would be in the unfamiliar district  

  • Debates



    These are a couple of links on Boswell’s debates that I found.  I think a debate would help both of them, but all you’re going to hear is recycled talking points unless the moderators do a great job.  

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