Sacking Saxby: VoteVets goes on attack

The veterans group uses its visually powerful body armor ad to attack Chambliss.

Thomas Schaller
October 27, 2008 10:05PM (UTC)

If there were any sweeter justice than watching Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss lose next week, it would be seeing him lose thanks in part to the political impact of some great ads depicting him as soft on defense, like the one below.

Chambliss, most of you remember, was the beneficiary of those nasty, mendacious ads that were run in 2002 against a real American hero, Max Cleland, depicting him as somehow soft on defense even though Cleland lost three limbs in service to his country. Chambliss epitomizes all of the worst elements of the smarmy, oleaginous, patriotism-challenging, cultural war-heavy, solution-free, Southern-led national Republican approach to politics and governing. But that shtick is getting stale.

Advertisement: hopes to make Chambliss pay. So they decided to invest some money running in Georgia  a version of an ad they have used earlier that criticizes Chambliss for voting against upgraded body armor for the very troops he claims to protect. Unlike so many political ads, this one is effective because it is visually appealing and features an actual Iraq war veteran, Pete Granato.

And it has worked in the past, according to Brandon Friedman of VoteVets. The group used it in 2006 Senate races against Republican incumbents in Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- and all four lost. (They have also used it this cycle against Liddy Dole in North Carolina, who is also in electoral danger.) "This ad is powerful because it shows in a very visceral way how votes in Congress actually affect the troops on the ground. For that reason, we’re currently running it in two Georgia military markets -- the Fort Benning and Fort Stewart areas -- because they represent the communities most affected by Chambliss' careless voting record," Friedman told me by e-mail today.

If you haven't seen it before, the ad is worth a glimpse. For Chambliss, who finds himself with a dwindling, single-digit lead, it may turn out to be worth a wince.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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