As the Trump White House continued its unraveling, Bob Menendez – who can’t afford to dally in a race that shouldn’t be close but is – released two ads, a one-two punch. The first, out yesterday, is introductory, biographical, positive, with a soft jab at his opponent tucked in. The second, released today, is a classic hit on Bob Hugin, in one of the areas Hugin is vulnerable – his conduct and decisions running Celgene.
Ad 1 (first video): In the first ad – ‘Never Forgot,’ Menendez speaks to the camera walking the streets of his youth, talking to groups of racially-mixed constituents, and taking ownership of a Union City middle-class upbringing in the same county Bob Hugin grew up in: “I never forgot my roots. He has.” The reference is pointed, in two ways. Hugin, self-funding the hell out of this race, is known (especially if Menendez can help) for jacking up the price on a cancer drug ordinary people need; Menendez wants to paint him as an unthinking, callous financial opportunist – and he probably is. The other reference is meant to reframe your understanding of the senator himself, in the headlines for living in luxury on somebody else’s dime, the now convicted Dr. Salomon Melgen. Message: Regular guy, despite what you’ve heard. 30 seconds, feels longer.
Ad 2 (second video): Zero subtlety, nuance, or gentle suggestion in the second ad; evident by the title: ‘Greed.’ It’s quick (30 sec), down & dirty. He wants you to know that other part of Hugin’s pricing on that cancer drug, its lower price in Russia. Tom Moran called that ‘unfair,’ and a ‘cheap shot’ and made the point that the Democratic campaign was skipping over more egregious Hugin corporate decisions. Moran’s right. But my guess is this first negative TV ad is designed for low-information voters who make voting decisions based more on emotion, on visceral response.
What do you think, Blue Jersey?