September 18, 2012

2nd Congressional District race: Michaud TV ad takes page from 2010 playbook

Incumbent used similar message during campaign against Levesque

By Ben McCanna bmccanna@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

If a new TV ad from U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud evokes memories from a previous campaign, there's good reason.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by David Leaming U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is interviewd during a tour at the New Balance shoe factory in Norridgewock on Thursday.

The 30-second ad, which began airing Tuesday, shows veterans thanking Michaud for his work to establish VA clinics in four Maine communities, similar to an ad that ran during Michaud's 2010 race against Republican Jason Levesque.

A spokesman for Michaud said the ad provides an update on efforts for veterans' services, while the campaign for Republican challenger Kevin Raye contends the familiar ad is probably the result of hasty decision-making.

Campaign spokesman Dan Cashman acknowledged Tuesday that the ad is very similar to what voters have already seen.

"It's the same subject matter," he said. "It's something (Michaud) has been honored to do -- work closely with veterans over the years."

In the 2010 ad, several veterans thanked Michaud for helping to open clinics in Houlton and Lincoln and his efforts to open two more in Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn. Two years later, the proposed clinics have opened, so the 2012 ad reflects that change, Cashman said.

"We feel it's an important story that should be told to the Maine voter," he said.

The ad concludes with Michaud responding to the vets who thanked him.

"No. Thank you for your service to our country," he says. "I'm Mike Michaud and I approved this message because we must never forget them, or their sacrifice."

Raye's campaign consultant, Kathie Summers-Grice, said she believes the ad was slapped together as a last-minute response to Raye's growing momentum in the race and an ad campaign that began a week ago. She cited records from TV stations last week that showed Michaud wasn't planning to hit the airwaves until early next month.

"This was hastily done," she said of Michaud's ad. "They recognize that Kevin is gaining momentum. They recognize that Kevin's message is resonating with voters as a small business owner. This is a reactionary movement from the Michaud campaign to try to respond to that," she said.

Cashman said Summers-Grice is incorrect; the decisions about the ad's content and start date were made several weeks ago.

James Melcher, a professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington, said assertions by Raye's campaign might be partly correct.

"I think it's a sign they're taking Raye's campaign seriously, and I think they have plenty of reason to do so," Meltcher said. "Kevin Raye is the best known candidate they've run against since the last time Raye ran, he's the best funded candidate, he's been getting money from national sources."

Meltcher said it makes sense, however, for Michaud to start the campaign with an ad featuring veterans, because he has a long history of supporting them. It is more noteworthy that both campaigns are running positive ads, and there haven't been any ads from national sources bashing either candidate, he said.

Earlier this week, Michaud earned an endorsement from the grassroots conservation group Sierra Club, Cashman said.

"It's another area where Mike is very proud of his record. We're very, very happy they have chosen to give him their endorsement," he said.

Both campaigns said they will release lists of additional endorsements in the coming weeks.

Ben McCanna -- 861-9239

bmccanna@centralmaine.com

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