Republican congressional candidate Martha Rainville will start airing her first television ads today. The campaign is spending about $52,000 to air the 30-second television ad and a separate but similar radio ad over local airwaves for the next week and a half, campaign manager Nathan Rice said.
The ad, which shows Rainville in a dark wood office setting with the U.S. and Vermont flags behind her, emphasizes her appeal for a "clean campaign." She pledges to "set a new standard for the rest of America."
"I'm running a different kind of campaign that respects my opponent and respects you," Rainville says in the ad. "I've proposed and signed a clean campaign pledge. No negative ads or mail that tear down my opponent. And no guilt by association."
Rainville said she chose not to start with an introduction-to-the-candidate ad because she thinks Vermonters already know her from her role as head of the Vermont National Guard the last nine years. This clean campaign push, she said, is fundamental to her candidacy. "The first ad should reflect what I feel is fundamental to the campaign," she said.
Her Democratic opponent, Peter Welch, has maintained that the clean campaign pledge is flawed. The pledge included a commitment to spend no more than $1 million on the campaign, counting what others spend on the candidate's behalf. Rainville can't legally control what outside forces will do, Welch has said, so there is no way to ensure the national party, for instance, wouldn't drop a few hundred thousands dollars the last week of the campaign.
After seeing the ad Wednesday, Welch's campaign spokesman, Andrew Savage, said, "This ad shows a clear distinction in this race. Peter Welch believes the most important issue is whether we are going to take our country in a new direction and Martha Rainville thinks the most important issue is whether or not she runs a 'clean campaign.' Vermonters are looking for a real leader who will fight to take Congress in a new direction, not more boiler-plate political pledges to distract from addressing failed Republican policies."
Reaction was similar from Rainville's Republican opponent, Mark Shepard. "I've never been very impressed with that being the main part of the campaign," he said. "It's isn't something I hear people clamoring for. They want health care, jobs. They worry about the economy."
Defining negative could turn out to be a matter of disagreement as the campaign season goes on. Rainville said she will be talking about opponents' voting record and will feature fact-based statements about opponents. "That is all fair," she said.
Rainville said her opposition has been negative toward her. "I think there have been some pot shots," she said. She declined to specify or characterize those pot shots. The voters, she said, will define what is negative.
- Terri Hallenbeck