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Pelosi and Her 'San Francisco Values'

Labels are the mother's milk of electoral politics, and while GOP congressional campaigns are already thinking of politically negative ways to refer to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), they can always fall back on the old standby in labeling Nancy Pelosi: "San Francisco liberal."

The first-ever female Speaker has been a target of conservative campaign ads and mailings for quite a while now, and you can expect to hear both her name and that of her adopted hometown (since her native Baltimore isn't nearly as effective) with increasing frequency as November approaches. Missouri GOP Rep. Sam Graves is getting an early start on the anti-Pelosi front, airing this ad against his Democratic opponent, former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes:

"In San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi's throwing a party for Kay Barnes," the ad's narrator says, over a groovy disco score. Barnes, it seems, subscribes to those notorious "San Francisco values," meaning: "Yes to same-sex marriage. Yes to abortion. Yes to amnesty for illegal immigrants."

During that recitation of liberal stances, the ad shows a multiracial trio dancing suggestively in front of a bar. The trio is comprised of a man wearing a cowboy hat and two women, one of whom has terrible hair. It's not clear whether the ad is implying that one or all of them are homosexual, abortion rights supporters or illegal immigrants. The ad could have gone further by actually showing a same-sex couple dancing, but it didn't.

Do these kinds of attacks work? Pelosi is certainly well-known to conservative activists and donors, so an ad like this could get Graves' base fired-up. Beyond that, it's not clear how many of Graves' northwestern Missouri constituents actually know who Pelosi is. The Speaker is rarely the subject of public opinion polls. One national survey taken in February gave her job performance a 25 percent positive, 57 percent negative rating. Another poll taken last July showed Pelosi with a 31 percent/35 percent favorable/unfavorable score as a "public figure," with 34 percent of respondents unsure of their answer or simply unaware of who she was.

Obviously, Republicans believe enough people know Pelosi -- and definitely enough know all about "San Francisco" -- that it's a smart move to spend campaign cash on linking Democratic candidates to the Speaker. Personally, Capitol Briefing's takeaway from that Graves ad is that Kay Barnes hangs out with people who like to drink and dance. Look for her support among college students to skyrocket.

By Ben Pershing  |  May 13, 2008; 3:37 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Dem. Leaders  
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Posted by: votenic | May 13, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Nice that the 7 million people that live in the San Francisco metro area all get to be lumped together and judged by midwestern Republicans.

More people live in the Bay Area than in the entire state of Missouri. We've referred to middle America as the heartland so much that it's starting to go to peoples heads.

Posted by: R | May 13, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I think Pelosi should be voted out of her present position. I do hope that people running against her, have the backing to make it possible.

To much has gone to her head and she acts like she owns this country and the people in it.

Posted by: seah ohio | May 13, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Sam Graves is desperate - that is why ole Negative Sam is going this negative this early. He is assisted by the trailer-trash version of Karl Rove, an odious creature with an IQ 1/3 his weight, a disgusting wretch named Jeff Roe.

Lot's of us who hail from the MO 06 who have moved away are ready to see Graves go - he has goosestepped with aWol to the beat of the fascist drum. The district he represents is actually a swing district in a swing state and the history of the district sez that the seat is due to flip. Talking to my friends and relatives up there, I would say Graves is toast.

Posted by: Kay was my Mayor | May 13, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

You mess with the Queen Bee and your going to get stung. Hillary found out.

Posted by: 1ahead | May 13, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Of course. Being from northwestern Missouri qualifies you as a real American, while being from the Bay Area means you're some kind undesirable geographic oddity. If any Bay Area legislator ever made similar claims about "Midwestern values" or "Southern values," there'd be such a hue and cry you'd think the world was ending.

If Sam Graves is representative of American values, I'll take my San Francisco values any day.

Posted by: anders | May 13, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

"San Francisco values" is textbook code for gay-baiting. Just watch the clip to be sure. The dude may not have HOMOSEXUAL emblazoned on his tank top, but...he might as well.

I'm glad Rep. Graves and the NRCC thinks this kind of bigotry is going to pay dividends. I think they're on the wrong side of history.

Posted by: jonathan | May 13, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Ben, let me explain the point of the three dancers to you as you obviously didn't 'get' it.

The black guy glances at the black girl, then focuses his attention of the white girl. He looks her up and down and dances 'suggestively' with her.

Now do you get the point of the ad? The gay/immigration'abortion talk is just a smokescreen for the real message it's sending.

Posted by: Tom J | May 22, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

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