Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

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Ad blames Harry Reid for Nevada’s economic plight

Reality check

We’ve talked about Harry Reid’s first ad about Sharron Angle. Now we’ll look at an ad designed to bolster Angle’s candidacy in the U.S. Senate race.

The commercial

With a video showing a man sweeping a vacant building and the on-screen text reading, “Nevada Unemployment Hits Record High,” a voice says “With Nevada in economic free fall, Harry Reid brags about his taxpayer-funded $787 billion bailout.”

With a close-up photo of Reid, the voice says: “There is no question our hard work is paying off. Paying off? Paying off for whom?” On-screen text echoes the voice-over.

As the video shows men and women holding briefcases and text that reads, “2nd Highest Unemployment in the nation,” another voice says, “More than 180,000 Nevadans are out of work.”

The next theme opens with a “Reduced Price” real estate sign followed by a foreclosure sign and a voice saying “record foreclosures.”

Then, with an image of Reid, the voice says, “Harry Reid’s work is paying off all right ... Paying off for his friends in Washington.”

With an image of Reid, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the voice asks, “But leaving Nevada with what?”

The text reads “Going out of Business” and “Foreclosure” as an image of Reid returns to the screen, superimposed over a man in the background, crying.

The message

The ad is paid for by a group called American Crossroads, which has been called a shadow Republican National Committee advised by longtime GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.

This spot is all about guilt by association, about linking Reid to all of the state’s economic ills and, of course, to Obama and Pelosi.

The reality

There’s no quarreling with the economic figures. Nevada is in terrible economic shape.

But is Reid to blame? There are a few specifics worth exploring.

Did Reid brag about the “Bail Out Bill” as the ad states? Well, first, the spot intentionally calls the $787 billion stimulus a bailout to make it sound worse.

People are not fond of the stimulus bill, but they really hate the connotation of the word bailout.

Reid did say of the stimulus, “there is no question our hard work is paying off.”

But here’s the full quote from an October story in the Reno Gazette-Journal: “We’ve done a pretty good job,” he said. “The ditch is not as deep as it was. There’s no question our hard work is paying off.”

That is, we haven’t solved the problem, but we are making progress.

Reid has cited jobs saved and created by the stimulus, but the state is still hemorrhaging jobs. Did the ad leave out the rest of the quote to create the implication Reid was saying “all’s well?” What do you think?

The only other line in the ad worth talking about is a bizarre one near the end when the narrator says Reid’s work is “paying off for his friends in Washington.” The camera then pulls back to reveal the Obama-Reid-Pelosi governing trio, which was designed to remind voters the majority leader is part of the Democratic establishment.

Fine. But how is it “paying off” for any of them? The stimulus has helped hurt all of their approval ratings, so it is hardly paying off. The Reid folks are quite upset with this spot.

The campaign put out a release wailing that it contains “lies about Reid’s record.”

Not so. Indeed, there are only a few items to quibble with.

If the goal of the ad is to reinforce the poor economy and blame Reid and D.C. Democrats — the linchpin of GOP campaigns this year — then let me use a phrase Rove’s old boss knew well: mission accomplished.

And when it comes to truth, I mark down the ad for the stimulus/bailout intentional confusion and for the “paying off” silliness.

But overall, the facts are pretty inarguable, so I give the ad a B-plus.

Transcribed from “Face to Face With Jon Ralston.”

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