The super-PAC supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich’s campaign for president is invoking Donald Trump’s iconic helicopter in a new TV commercial that will target New Hampshire voters this week.
New Day for America, which boosted Republican Kasich’s standing in polls in the critical first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire with a previous flight of television ads that started in early July, hopes to keep his momentum going with a new, cheeky ad that implicitly compares Kasich’s record of government accomplishment with Trump’s boasts.
The ad, obtained by Bloomberg Politics, begins with a close up on helicopter blades. “He’s turned red ink to black,” a deep, narrator's voice says as the rotor starts turning and the aircraft makes a slow ascent. “Shattered expectations. Experience. Success. Speaks to every one of us. Blunt. Direct. Not part of the tired system.”
As captions at the bottom of the screen display Kasich’s jobs, tax and budget record as a public official, the narrator continues: “Best of all, he’s done great things. Not for himself, but for us.”
Only then is Kasich’s name, emblazoned in red on the side of the helicopter, revealed.
Unlike almost every other candidate in the Republican race, Kasich has avoided tangling with Trump, who has regularly traded fire with other hopefuls, such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and Scott Walker. As fellow Republicans sparred with The Donald on the debate stage last week, Kasich instead urged civility. “If I were sitting at home and watch thing back and forth, I would be inclined to turn it off,” he warned, encouraging his party to focus on policy issues instead of infighting.
Now the governor’s super-PAC’s efforts have the potential to change that dynamic, albeit with a lighthearted touch.
The admaker who produced the commercial for the super-PAC, Fred Davis, is known for his attention-getting videos. In this case, although Trump is never mentioned or shown, the intention is clear—to spoof the lifestyle of Trump, who brought his branded helicopter to the Iowa State Fair this summer, and make the case that Kasich has similar straight-talking qualities but with a record of accomplishment that the billionaire lacks.
Another possible part of the gambit: although Kasich has moved up in New Hampshire polling, he still has a long way to get both in that state and nationally to raise his name ID, and slapping his last name on the side of a helicopter is sure to garner at least some attention.
And the core message of the ad, listing Kasich’s accomplishments as a congressman and now as governor, echoes the candidate’s own emphasis, which directly challenges the political success of Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and the field’s current momentum candidate, businesswoman Fiorina, none of whom have held elective office.
According to a source familiar with the super-PAC’s plans, New Day for America intends to spend about $228,000 per week for the next two weeks at least airing the spot on New Hampshire broadcast and cable TV channels, as well on Boston broadcast TV stations that reach the Granite State. To date, the super-PAC has spent more than $5.7 million on New Hampshire and Boston media to boost Kasich.
In the last few rounds of public polling in New Hampshire, Kasich hovers around 10 percent, and he is now competing with Bush and Fiorina for a third-place spot behind Trump and Carson. Nationally, even after two debate performances that have earned strong reviews, Kasich still lags well behind the front-runners.
Although the super-PAC’s first flight of ads helped boost Kasich in New Hampshire (along with frequent campaign trips there and several high-profile endorsements), the airwaves are more crowded now, as other campaigns and super-PACS begin to advertise, as well. New Day for America has spent millions on commercials targeting New Hampshire voters, staying on the air continuously from the day they began their advertising.