Oh, this is rich. As the Politico reports, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s advertising people sought out just the right kind of actors for a recent ad in the West Virginia Senate race — the “hicky” kind.
(Late Update: The NRSC reportedly plans to pull the ad — and are vigorously disavowing the casting call. “No one at the NRSC, or associated with the NRSC, had anything to do with the language used in this casting call,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. “We do not support it, and suffice to say, we would encourage our contractors to never work with this outside agency again.”)
The ad featured three blue-collar guys at a diner, talking about how the only way to stop President Obama was to vote against Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin in the race for Senate. It appears that the ad was shot in Philadelphia, not in West Virginia, and sought out that key “hicky” actor type, in the GOP’s efforts to show West Virginia voters that the party is on their side.
“We are going for a ‘Hicky’ Blue Collar look,” a casting call for the ad said. “These characters are from West Virginia so think coal miner/trucker looks.”
And just to further damage their street cred, the casting call misspelled a key down-home brand name, asking for actors with “John Deer [sic] hats (not brand new, preferably beat up).”
In some ways this is similar to other recent uses of actors in political ads, such as a fake steel-worker in an ad for gubernatorial candidate John Kasich (R-OH), and the short-lived career of “Jim the Election Guy” in ads for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). (As it turned out, Jim’s real name was Beau, and he is originally from Maryland and lives in California.) On the other hand, there is no immediate evidence that the production processes for the Kasich and Bachmann ads involved the use of insulting terms about the target audiences.
As the Politico reports, the NRSC is distancing itself from this mega-gaffe, pointing to their subcontractors as being responsible for it:
A GOP official said the NRSC had nothing to do with the casting directions, which were issued by a subcontractor, unbeknownst to the NRSC. The official said it is standard practice by both parties for political commercials to contract outside of their campaigns for actors.
Brian Walsh, the NRSC’s communications director, said: “West Virginians understand that most commercials on television are produced by outside professionals with actors in studios. While it is one thing for actors to impersonate someone they’re not because it’s their job, it is entirely different when a governor is doing that so he can get promoted.”
Of course, this style of campaigning does seem to be working. The TPM Poll Average gives Republican businessman John Raese a lead of 49.4%-43.4%.