Gordon Smith Suggests Obama Supports Him
"Who says Gordon Smith helped lead the fight for better gas mileage and a cleaner environment? Barack Obama!" the ad's announcer declares. "Truth" is a 30-second spot that also cites Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski's support of Smith's bipartisan efforts on energy legislation.
But Obama does not support Smith's reelection bid.
"Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate," says Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. "In this race, Oregonians should know that Barack Obama supports Jeff Merkley for Senate. Merkley will help Obama bring about the fundamental change we need in Washington."
This is the first example we've seen of a Republican airing an ad that casts Obama positively, in the hopes of winning voter support. Considering how anti-Obama ads backfired in recent special congressional elections -- and the record crowds Obama attracted to an Oregon campaign rally -- Smith might be helped by admitting his political "crush on Obama."
But his most recent ad is one of several that stresses his bipartisan appeal.
"Guts and Independence" stars former congresswoman Elizabeth Furse and State Sen. Avel Gordly, both of whom are Democratic supporters of Smith:
"He listens, has an open mind, and follows his conscious," Gordly says.
"Like being one of the first to stand up to George Bush and other Republicans to end this war," adds Furse.
"Middle Ground" also portrays Smith as a centrist and emphasizes his bipartisan work on popular issues:
"Moderate. Independent. Bipartisan," the ad's announcer says.
"Working with Republicans and Democrats for stem cell research, health care for working families, renewable energy and a cleaner environment."
"The National Journal ranks Smith at the center of the Senate."
Smith's earlier ads attacked Merkley's record. The shift to a bipartisan message comes as the gap between Smith and Merkley is expected to tighten now that independent John Frohnmayer has dropped out of the race. The race is listed on The Fix's recent Friday Line assessment of competitive Senate races, while The Rothenberg Political Report gives Smith a slight edge.
-- Ed O'Keefe
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