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August 17, 2010

Leahy Challenger 'Spices' Up Primary with Web Ad

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Daniel Freilich is picking up some national notice thanks to his campaign ad spoofing the YouTube ads for Old Spice. Unfortunately, not all of the attention is positive.

Then again, when Comedy Central, Huffington Post, and Swampland (TIME's political blog) post your campaign ad, spell your name correctly and provide a link to the ad it can't all be bad, right?

When you're taking on the popular incumbent Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a guy who is practically worshiped in the Vermont Democratic Party, you need every bit of help you can get. David versus Goliath doesn't begin to describe the match-up.

To date, only Republican Senate hopeful Len Britton has used parody ads to make political points against the popular Leahy. In a series of "Billy" ads, Britton criticizes Sen. Leahy and Washington politicians for increasing the federal debt. Britton, a former Hollywood screenwriter, writes his own scripts. 

The second ad in the series "Better Bail Faster, Billy" has been a big hit on conservative websites and National Review Online. So far, it’s been viewed 25,000 times. The original “Billy” ad, 38,000 times. More are in the works.

Britton's ads are funny and offer some policy points. Freihlich's ad isn't original, and other than touting his pledge to take no money from political action committees and to serve only two terms, the ad doesn't offer much in terms of substance.

But, it does have Freilich dressed first as a doctor (he's a Navy doc), then jogging past a covered bridge, through a downtown Brattleboro, guzzling some maple syrup (but then tossing the tin to the ground, yikes!) and then in front of Congress. Finally, well, he ends up riding a cow. OK, actually a person dressed in a cow suit.

Swampland called Freilich's commercial "Today's Regrettable Campaign Ad." Other outlets were more forgiving. Well, most of them.

Here's what Comedy Central had to say:

Okay, so Freilich isn't quite as attractive as the actual Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa. Nor quite as articulate. Or charismatic. And, though I don't know much about Mustafa's politics, I'd wager that Freilich isn't as much of a policy wonk.

Anyway, I forget what I was talking about. was less forgiving in its critique:

Making a campaign video is a dicey process. First, there’s the inevitable low production value, and then there’s the tendency for candidates to fall victim to attention-grabbing gimmicks and questionable musical numbers. But nothing quite compares to the embarrassment of the dreaded spoof video, and unfortunately for Vermont Senate hopeful Daniel Freilich no one filled him in on that.

Huffington Post played it pretty straight, at least noting that his ad was getting plenty of buzz on the 'Net.

While Freilich is considered a "long shot" for the Senate seat, this unique campaign strategy definitely has the Internet's attention.

The Chicago Tribune's DC political blog "The Swamp" pretty much nailed the reason for doing the ad in the first place, nasty criticisms aside.

Such videos are typical of underfunded challengers' attempts to earn so-called "free media" in order to get attention. And here at least, he was successful.

We'll see if Freilich can turn his online fame into fortune, something Britton has failed to do as well.

To date, Freilich has raised only about $70,000, has about $522 cash on hand and $1100 in debt. Britton has raised about $93,000 with about $1100 cash on hand and $79,000 in debts. 

To date, Leahy has raised roughly $3.2 million, spent $1.2 millon and still has $3.2 million cash on hand.

If Freilich loses on Tuesday, he'll return for the general election campaign as an independent.

I wonder if we can expect more parody ads: Maybe the GEICO lizard? The Progressive saleslady? The Shamwow?

I don't know what everyone is talking about, this video is insanely funny! He also says plenty about his campaign: no special interest money, term limits, no more same old washington nonsense, and voting with conscience instead of pocketbook. You must be in Leahy's pocketbook or would see how genius this commercial is. It's funny, but corny and that's what gets attention on the internet. This guy has received enormous amounts of publicity for free, he must be doing something right. If I vote, it's for him!

Ooh, Shamwow! Thanks for the idea...

Sadly, we'll be stuck with Leahy for six more years as he drools into retirement. I never voted for anyone else, but not this time. He's out of touch. We need another Bernie.

Why are the people of Vermont so far behind and out of step with the rest of the country? Patrick Leahy is an old giezzer and shows up to Congres drunk. Why do Vermont people want this kind of person to represent them? Does anybody know the answer to this? Perhaps name recognition? I don't get it. Jim - Austin, Texas

have you seen our newest parody of O' Donnell, "not a witch?"

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