Friday, October 31, 2008

Democrats Try to Use McCain to Saddle GOP Candidates

By Nathan L. Gonzales

President Bush has been a mainstay in Democratic television ads for the last three years, as Democrats try to use him as an anchor to bring down Republican incumbents and candidates.

Earlier this year, GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) was thought to be an asset to Republican candidates downballot. But apparently Democrats believe McCain could be a liability in some districts, as he is starting to appear in some negative advertising.

“1980. Pac-Man is the new fad and Frank Wolf goes to Congress,” an announcer says in a television ad for Wolf’s Democratic challenger, Judy Feder, in Northern Virginia’s 10th district. “Twenty eight years later, Frank Wolf supports the McCain plan to tax your health care benefits.”

“Wolf even supports risking your Social Security in the stock market. And a constitutional amendment that criminalizes abortion, just like John McCain,” the ad continues. “Judy Feder will work with Barack Obama to fix our economy and fight for affordable health care.”

Two years ago, Wolf defeated Feder, 57 percent to 41 percent. Feder spent an impressive $1.5 million last cycle, compared with $1.8 million for Wolf. This cycle, each candidate raised about $1.9 million through Oct. 15 and both are advertising in the expensive Washington, D.C., media market.

Bush won Virginia’s 10th by 11 points in 2004, but Obama s doing very well in the region.

Earlier this cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used McCain and Bush against Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.).

The television ad used similar sound bites from all three men, talking about how the fundamentals of the economy are strong. McCain makes an appearance, but the last photo shows Shays hand in hand with Bush.

Bush lost Connecticut’s 4th district by 6 points in 2004, while Shays simultaneously won re-election by 4 points. But the Democratic wave is much higher this year.

McCain is losing the district by 20 points, according to an Oct. 15-18 University of Connecticut poll for Hearst Newspapers, and by 22 points, according to an Oct. 13-14 SurveyUSA poll for Roll Call.

It’s a stunning turnaround from earlier. McCain was precisely the presidential candidate that Republicans thought would help Members such as Shays and Wolf in their more moderate districts.

This story first appeared on on October 29, 2008. 2008 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.