Dold, Schneider pledge bipartisanship in ads
Republican Robert Dold, left, opposes Democrat Brad Schneider in the 10th Congressional District for the 2012 General Election.
Republican Robert Dold
Democrat Brad Schneider
Bipartisanship is the theme of the first TV ads for both congressional candidates running in the suburban 10th District.
Republican incumbent Robert Dold and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider play to the middle in the spots, pledging to put aside partisan politics and reach across the aisle if elected.
Neither candidate mentions the other in the commercials.
The approach doesn't surprise campaign expert Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.
The district long has been known for having a core of moderate swing voters, Redfield said, so he expects the candidates' ads will be less confrontational and less partisan than those for the presidential candidates or those in some other House races.
"Neither candidate in the 10th has a hard-core partisan or ideological base that will translate into a majority without getting a majority of the swing voters," Redfield said in an email. "That being said, the ads are likely to become comparative and issue oriented as the campaign progresses."
The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. The borders were redrawn significantly ahead of the Nov. 6 election to give the eventual Democrat nominee a better chance.
Schneider, a rookie candidate from Deerfield, unveiled his first TV commercial this week.
Narrated by the candidate, the 30-second cable spot is titled "What You See" and starts with quick, black-and-white video snippets of politicians known for partisan rhetoric. The segment includes infamous footage of McHenry Tea Partyer Joe Walsh yelling at a constituent at a gathering in Gurnee last year.
Then, as pleasant music plays, Schneider pledges he won't play political games and insists he will work with everyone, Democrat or Republican, "as long as they have a good idea."
"The bickering, the gridlock, it has to stop," Schneider says as the commercial draws to a close.
As a political newcomer, Schneider needs to introduce himself to potential voters in his ads as a foundation for message ads later in the campaign, Redfield said.
Dold, a freshman lawmaker from Kenilworth, put a pair of ads on cable TV last month. They'll continue to air through Election Day, a spokesman said.
In the first, called "Independent Leadership," Dold starts by talking about growing up and raising his family in the suburbs.
Later, Dold criticizes "party politics" and says the nation needs independent leadership to get back on track.
He implores viewers to "build a new movement" and to "unite and work together as Americans."
Dold's second TV spot is called "Working Together." In it, he explains he ran for Congress to solve tough problems, "not to play politics."
As in the first ad, Dold talks of coming together as Americans, and he talks of the need "to put people before politics and progress before partisanship."
Dold has always tried to distance himself from conservative Republicans and the Tea Party. His predecessor in the House, now-Sen. Mark Kirk of Highland Park, won five terms by portraying himself as an independent Republican, too.
"When the candidates get to message — what the race is about, why elect me — they are both likely to focus as much on bipartisan cooperation (and) problem solving as they do on policy," Redfield said.
The positive messages in the Dold and Schneider TV ads are different from the partisan signals coming from the people supporting the candidates.
The news release that announced Schneider's commercial criticized "Congressman Dold and his Tea Party allies in Washington" for various legislation efforts.
And the Illinois Republican Party has released Internet-only videos that seek to paint Schneider as a left-wing candidate.
One uses clips of Schneider talking about being a progressive Democrat as the Who's "Who Are You" plays in the background. Another consists of video clips of the Democrat lawmakers Schneider has supported with campaign contributions, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dick Durbin.
The effort to portray Schneider as being far to the left politically contrasts with criticism he received during the Democratic primary. Back then, some of the other candidates — and some Democratic activists — blasted Schneider as not being Democratic enough because he had given campaign donations to some Republican candidates, including Kirk.
Schneider, who is Jewish, said all of the donations to GOP candidates reflected their support of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Redfield predicted more "hard edge" campaign ads, robocalls and mailers will come from independent groups backing the candidates.
"You have no control over who is watching a TV ad run right before the evening news, but when you send a message to a union household or (people on) a seniors or conservative mailing list, you can put in a lot more red meat," he said.
Dold should be wary of allies who try to throw mud at Schneider, Redfield said.
"The danger for Dold is that he needs crossover voters, people who vote for Obama and then vote for him," he said. "Independent expenditure ads that really go after Obama in attacking Schneider could backfire with these voters."
Likewise, Schneider can't attack Dold on the traditionally divisive issue of abortion because Dold claims to be pro-choice and has voted to assist abortion-rights groups, Redfield said.
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