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Ad Wars: Bush Leaves Voters in the Dust

Republicans are hoping that once Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) becomes their party's official presidential nominee this fall, voters' negative impression of President Bush in particular and his party more generally will begin to fade.

Democrats don't seem likely to let that happen -- knowing that the very mention of Bush rallies their own base and serves as a form of kryptonite to most Republican candidates running in downballot contests.

Take a new ad being run by Albuquerque City Councilman Martin Heinrich who is seeking the Democratic nod in New Mexico's hyper-competitive 1st congressional district. It's the latest installment of our "Ad Wars" feature in which we occasionally highlight a particularly effective, controversial, funny or just plain odd commercial running in a state or federal race.

Let's take a look at the ad:

Why does the ad, produced by Democratic media firm Envision Communications, work? Because Heinrich's campaign message is a powerful one affirmed by the images shown on screen.

"For the past eight years George Bush has left middle class families in the dust," Heinrich says as a black limousine with the license plate "Dubya 43" (nice touch) blows past a family of three on a dirt road. Heinrich then intones: "I'm running for Congress to take us in a new direction."

Although this ad is running in advance of tomorrow's primary in an attempt to define Heinrich as the most anti-Bush Democrat in the field -- a winning place to be -- the New Mexico Democrat could just as easily recycle a similar message (and ad) in the general election.

While Republicans point out that Bush won't be on the ballot in the fall, Democrats like Heinrich are smart to do everything they can to run against the president, who even among many Republican-leaning voters is viewed dismally.

This ad is the leading edge of that anti-Bush messaging. Expect to see a lot more of it.

Remember that if you see an ad you think is worthy of an "Ad Wars" feature, shoot an email to chris DOT cillizza AT washingtonpost DOT com. And, yes, media consultants, this means you too. Feel free to send your best work over.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 2, 2008; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Ad Wars  
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