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Democratic ads steer away from national security

<p>If the attacks in Paris have dramatically reshaped the national conversation surrounding the presidential race, it may be news to Democratic ad makers.</p><p>At least three Republican candidates or their super PACs have gone up on television with hard-hitting ads focused on national security in the days since the ISIL assault on Paris — most recently Marco Rubio, in a 30 second, straight-to-camera spot called “A Civilizational Struggle” — but recent spots from the leading Democratic candidates have remained zeroed-in on domestic policy, highlighting the divergent tracks guiding the two primary races.</p><p>It’s not that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders aren’t talking about foreign policy and security on the campaign trail, since each has gone out of their way to speak up on terrorism in major addresses, but rather that the flash points in their race are squarely within the realm of economic policy.</p><p>On the chaotic and crowded GOP side, however, candidates are seizing the opportunity to assure voters that their plan for combating ISIL is strongest — and they’re pulling out all the stops to do it by blanketing the airwaves of Iowa and New Hampshire at a time when the voters there are once again getting used to seeing campaigns and super PACs plaster their television screens with ads that are quickly getting more pointed.</p><p>“On the job training for president does not work,” proclaims the deep-voiced narrator of a pro-John Kasich ad from his super PAC New Day for America, part of a $6.5 million ad buy. “Benghazi. Beheadings. Paris,” the ad continues, as photos of President Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson flash on the screen.</p><br><p>Since the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary are a month later than they were in 2008 — and since campaigns have increasingly been relying on end-of-year holiday-season advertising — the frequency and intensity of such spots is expected to increase slowly but steadily, said ad makers from both sides of the aisle.</p><p>Republican campaigns and groups are set to spend roughly $1.7 million on television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire during this traditionally slow week, according to media buying sources, but escalate that to $3.4 million the following one, after Thanksgiving.</p><p>Rubio, for one, had yet to put any television ads on air before this week, when his stark foreign policy spot debuted on national cable.</p><p>Wearing a bright red tie and speaking into the camera in front of a black background, the Florida senator is nothing but serious: “This is a civilizational struggle between the values of freedom and liberty, and radical Islamic terror. What happened in Paris could happen here. There is no middle ground,” he says, continuing in that strain before concluding: “I’m Marco Rubio. I approve this message, because there can be no arrangement or negotiation. Either they win or we do.&quot;</p><p>At the same time, a super PAC backing Chris Christie is also leaning hard into the security theme in an attempt to build him up in New Hampshire, where both his hopes and Kasich’s will live and die. Both Kasich’s super PAC and Christie’s are spending roughly $1.5 million in ads there between November and early December.</p><p>The New Hampshire spot from pro-Christie America Leads takes a slightly less dramatic approach than Kasich’s, introducing clips of Christie’s launch speech after images of Obama and Clinton, as well as a picture of individuals posing with ISIL flags.</p><p>The intense GOP competition for prominence in fighting terrorism is only expected to ratchet up as voting approaches.</p><p>The pro-Kasich group is set to start hitting Donald Trump more and more, for example, and much of the primary battle is expected to move to paid media as voters start tuning in after months of candidates duking it out over debates and news programming.</p><br><p>“I don’t see advertising having much of an effect yet,” said longtime Republican ad maker Ashley O’Connor, noting that candidates will start highlighting contrasts between themselves and their competitors as the Iowa caucuses loom larger by the day. So far, “it’s been more about debate performances and earned media.&quot;</p><p>On the Democratic side, however, neither Sanders nor Clinton has shown any sense of urgency in attacking the other — or in making the race into a foreign policy fight.</p><p>Clinton, whose campaign has been constantly rotating its advertisements since August, is focusing primarily on policy spots in recent weeks, on Saturday unveiling a 30-second spot featuring a New Hampshire breast cancer survivor promoting the Affordable Care Act and another featuring old clips of Clinton working for health reform in Washington.</p><p>And after kicking off his campaign’s ad regimen with a 60-second biographical spot explaining his background, Sanders segued into a new ad this week, looking straight into the camera and telling viewers: “If you’re doing everything right but find it harder and harder to get by, you’re not alone,” before graphics and images of workers take over.</p><p>The clip finishes with images from one of Sanders’ mega-rallies, which his campaign uses to carry on the narrative of the candidate’s “political revolution.&quot;</p><p>“He’s gotta stay relevant in this race, and those first two primary states are huge for him,” said veteran Democratic ad maker Eric Adelstein, pointing to the importance of Sanders’ television ads in New Hampshire and Iowa.</p><p>“A lot of the initial excitement and momentum has worn off, but using paid advertising is an attempt to [keep the momentum], to show it as a movement.&quot;</p><p><i>Steven Shepard contributed to this report.</i></p><br>

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