Media critic Leslie Savan’s post “GOP Plays a Mean Saxby” at The Nation spotlights a half-dozen of the recent political ads of the Martin-Chambliss race in Georgia. Chamblis’s central theme this time around is taxes, along with predictable name-calling about Martin being a liberal. Savan believes Chambliss’s ads are tame compared to his ’02 race against Cleland:
What Chambliss wants to do is bring out his base without provoking anyone on the other side. While both camps may spend as much or more on TV advertising in this four-week period before the run-off than they did in the months-long general election, the odds that Chambliss would walk on the wild side with another cut-throat ad are long.
As Savan notes, Chambliss is counting on a weak turnout. One obvious way for Martin to win is with a surprisingly large African American turnout in GA, although there are reports that early African American voting for the Senate run-off is lagging. African American turnout should get a boost from a reported influx of union volunteers. President-elect Obama has cut a radio ad for Martin, as Ed Kilgore noted yesterday. And yes, it would be good for Obama to come to GA for Martin in the closing days of the race. Obama’s rep as a ‘stand-up guy’ is one of his strongest political assets, and he is the leader of his party now, so I’m hoping he shows.
Another way to cut into Chambliss’s lead might be through creating more buzz among vets and supporters of the military about Chambliss’s numerous votes against vets’ interests. Martin has run a few ads on this theme, but he needs something more dramatic to generate some heat. I thought this powerful feature of the Democratic National Convention removed a lot of doubts viewers may have had about Obama’s national security creds. Why not get a few of the retired generals and admirals to do an ad for Jim Martin? Chambliss’s weak record on veterans benefits provides a lot of material for scripts, and I’ll bet a few of them wouldn’t mind coming out against Chambliss in return for his shameful ads questioning Cleland’s patriotism in ’02. Running such an ad in heavy rotation near GA’s military installations, as well as state-wide, just might sway enough voters who are slightly leaning toward Chambliss to vote for Martin. If this race is as close as recent polls indicate, such an ad just might make a difference.