Video: Best campaign ad of the cycle?

posted at 2:41 pm on April 21, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

When incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) attacked his midterm opponent Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) last month over his supposed sense of “entitlement” from his military service, it prompted widespread scorn and mockery — not least of which included pointed reminders that Pryor owes his own political career to his dad. The NRSC hammered Pryor and its DSCC counterparts for their “unacceptable” attacks on military service, but Cotton himself has opted for a lighter touch. He called his drill instructor to demonstrate just what military service taught Cotton, and “entitlement” doesn’t make the list:

“Sen. Pryor says my military service gives me, quote, ‘a sense of entitlement.’ So I brought in an expert,” Cotton says before his former basic training drill sergeant enters.

“Drill Sergeant Norton taught me to be a soldier: Accountability, humility, and putting the unit before yourself. That training stuck,” Cotton says after Norton gives him permission stand “at ease” in the humorous spot.

The light-hearted ad seeks to soften Cotton personally, tout his military record and knock Pryor for comments earlier this spring that Cotton has “a sense of entitlement that he gives off.”

“It’s almost just like ‘I served my country, therefore let me into the Senate.’ That’s not how it works in Arkansas,’ ” Pryor said in an interview to MSNBC last month.

Works better than my dad was Governor, most likely. While Cotton’s ad doesn’t directly address the complete hubris and hypocrisy of Pryor’s statement, it skewers him perfectly nonetheless. Furthermore, it uses the kind of self-deprecating humor that people love from public officials, which provides a very welcome contrast to Pryor’s pomposity. In its own gentle way, “At Ease” might end up being the campaign ad of the year — and I’ll bet that Arkansans see it a lot over the next few months.

Update: Matt Lewis calls this a “home run,” and offers three reasons why it works:

1). It obviously reinforces the key part of Cotton’s bio — his military service.

2). It serves to remind everyone of Sen. Mark Pryor’s most costly gaffe (his comments about Cotton’s military service giving him “a sense of entitlement.”)

3). Both these things are accomplished in a humorous manner. And as I’ve noted before, the knock on Cotton has always been that he’s too stiff and serious — that you’d rather have a beer with Pryor. This humorous ad (coupled with the music) shows Cotton’s personality, and undermines the notion that he’s aloof.

Update: The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan notes that Cotton wants to use a softer approach, but oddly never includes in his analysis the Pryor attack that this ad specifically rebuts — that Cotton acts entitled to the Senate seat. It’s not that his other points are wrong, but it ignores the central point of the ad. It’s as if one looked at the 1984 Macintosh ad and discussed the innovation of WYSIWYG and the mouse.


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Comment pages: 1 2

It’s a tremendous ad.

Put your $’s on Cotton.

aquaviva on April 21, 2014 at 9:41 PM

blink on April 21, 2014 at 9:13 PM

I have to go to my lap top to play. My desk top is being stupid.

Cindy Munford on April 21, 2014 at 9:45 PM

The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan notes that Cotton wants to use a softer approach, but oddly never includes in his analysis the Pryor attack that this ad specifically rebuts — that Cotton acts entitled to the Senate seat.

Cotton certainly feels entitled to that Senate seat. So does Pryor.

I would expect that anyone running for public office thinks that they are entitled to the position for which they are running — provided they get enough votes.

unclesmrgol on April 22, 2014 at 12:38 AM

I would expect that anyone running for public office thinks that they are entitled to the position for which they are running — provided they get enough votes.
unclesmrgol on April 22, 2014 at 12:38 AM

Unless you’re Barack Obama or a welfare recipient

Brock Robamney on April 22, 2014 at 5:39 AM

I love this ad, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

roy_batty on April 22, 2014 at 6:33 PM

It’s a well done ad.

But I had a much different experience with my Marine Drill Instructors in 1967. They weren’t nice soft spoken guys having a conversation. They were demons from Hell that scared the bejesus out of you in those first never-to-be-forgotten days of Boot Camp.

I eventually got used to it, but there wasn’t a day of Boot Camp that wasn’t a day in Hades. You hated them and admired them at the same time. On graduation day, you thanked them for the transformation from a young kid to a hardened Marine. Vietnam seemed easy compared to Boot Camp. I think that was the point.

Political Correctness had not infected the Marine Corps in 1967 so I discovered an entirely new vocabulary that was unknown to me until then.

I ended up serving 21 years. The DI’s of yesteryear would not have survived todays politically correct rules. Still today’s DI’s have found other ways to convince you that they are demons from Hell in human disguise while being politically correct–sort of.

I prefer the old Corps. The senior officers and SNCOs were veterans of WWII and the Korean War. They were mentally and physically tough. We trained hard, we fought hard, and we played hard–liberty was definitely politically incorrect in those days. People today wouldn’t understand. I’d do it all again if I could.

Semper Fi

BMF on April 24, 2014 at 6:31 AM

Comment pages: 1 2