Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is running a 30-minute political ad this week, a sort of public relations documentary-style piece that highlights the Tea Party-backed candidate’s views on the economy, education and health care.
The ad, which does not mention her opponent Democrat Chris Coons, attempts to establish O’Donnell’s Delaware roots, saying that her grandfather was born in the state and that she moved there “a better part of a decade ago.” (She came to Delaware seven years ago.)
The ad kicks off with a series of profiles of local business owners bemoaning the sluggish economy: Their stores are closing, the economy is in the gutter, and taxes and regulations are keeping things that way, they say.
But after interviews with Delawareans who say they are on the brink of losing everything because of high taxes, the ad sympathetically portrays a local government worker named “Amy,” who complains that she, a person whose salary is made up of taxpayer money, is also facing cutbacks.
“What you don’t hear is, they cut the county employees’ salaries by five percent,” says Amy, who we assume works for a county government in the state. “Now how are you supposed to live when you cut somebody’s salary five percent?”
O’Donnell then takes viewers to a Delaware farm, where a local farmer says he is worried that the estate tax, which will increase from zero to up to 55 percent at the end of this year, will destroy his ability to pass on the land to his family.
O’Donnell certainly has a point about residents’ anxiety over losing their land due to the new tax, but then she takes a surprising turn by claiming that farmers have been left out of the political process.
The farming industry is one of the most powerful lobbies in the country. The agriculture industry receives up to $35 billion in taxpayer subsidies annually, and the industry has spent millions over the past two decades lobbying members of Congress. The agricultural service industry spent nearly $35 million in 2009 alone in lobbying efforts.
“It really does shock me that for more than two decades, farmers have not had a voice in Washington,” she says.
On education policy, O’Donnell has said explicitly that local school districts should have more control over classroom content, a point she makes clear in the new ad. To the horror of national pundits, O’Donnell believes in localizing education so strongly that she sees no problem with a school teaching that the world was created by a higher being in a science class.
“These education decisions and curriculum decisions should be left up to the teachers and the local school boards who know their students better than any bureaucrat in Washington would,” she says in the ad.
She also reiterates her vow to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed earlier this year. The ad shows a doctor who says he is worried that he could be “forced to work for the government” and, like her views on education, wants health care decisions to be made locally.
The core message of the piece is that Washington has overstepped and that she thinks it’s time that local communities take back their place as decision makers in state and county affairs.
“I want to go to Washington and do what you would do,” she says near the end, echoing her infamous “I’m not a witch…I’m you” spots that ran last month.
“She’s one of us,” says one bearded Delawarean near the end. “And we’re going to Washington.”
With mere hours before voting booths open throughout The First State, polling averages give Democratic opponent Chris Coons a double digit lead, a reality the O’Donnell campaign is hoping this ad will help change.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the O’Donnell campaign is having trouble getting the spot to air on Delaware stations.
WATCH: O’Donnell’s ad