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Russ Feingold puts up his own whiteboard ad

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is up with a new television ad in which he attempts to use his Republican opponent's signature whiteboard against him -- a last-ditch attempt to save a political career that looked to be on solid footing as recently as six months ago.

The ad opens with an image of a blank whiteboard sitting on an easel as a narrator says, "Ron Johnson has spent a lot of money on TV ads, but he won't tell you what his plans are."

The narrator goes on to allege that Johnson, a wealthy businessman from Oshkosh, has no plan to create jobs and won't talk about what spending cuts he would advocate if elected.

"When times are tough, who do you trust to stand up for us," asks the narrator as the whiteboard falls over.

The message is clear: Johnson may talk a good game, but, ultimately, there's not much to him.

That Feingold is closing the campaign on this note speaks volumes to the success Johnson has had with his whiteboard ad campaign, however.

The first commercial drove home the point that there are too many lawyers in Congress and not enough manufacturers. (Johnson is -- you guessed it! -- a manufacturer.)

As we wrote at the time: "The takeaway from the ad is unmistakable: Ron Johnson is different. And being different is a very good thing to be in an election cycle like this one."

Johnson went up with another whiteboard ad last week in which he details the spending in Washington: "Washington's overspending is costing us jobs and hurting Wisconsin families," Johnson saysin the spot.

The whiteboard ads typify the entire dynamic of the race. Johnson has effectively painted -- or, more accurately, drawn -- himself as a simple-talking outsider, snatching that mantle from Feingold.

The incumbent's ad then is an attempt to co-opt the symbol of Johnson's campaign and turn it back on him. It's a sound strategy, but is it too little, too late for Feingold?

Most polling gives Johnson a mid-single-digit lead, and neither national party is spending any money in the state. The Fix rates the race "Lean Republican".

By Chris Cillizza  | October 25, 2010; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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