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A Campaign’s Favorite Spokesperson: the Daughter
Posted at 5 a.m. on March 7
A candidate recently aimed to make a positive impression on voters by starring his female offspring in a TV ad.
It happens nearly every cycle — and it did again last week, with a new Senate campaign spot from Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
His two daughters, Annie and Caroline, told voters all about the positive points of his biography, highlighting the fact that he is a “fifth-generation Montanan.”
For at least the past decade, it’s been a commonly used tactic for a handful of candidates seeking office for the first time. Sometimes the young women are a bit awkward or stilted, but the strategy seems to work: Campaigns reuse it again and again.
Back in 2004, John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, was in a campaign-for-the-ages against Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. The state’s sparsely-populated media market was cheap and saturated with political ads. Thune’s spot featured his daughters, Brittany and Larissa, and the gambit broke through the clutter.
In late-October 2006, it was Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. His campaign was under fire for a negative spot sponsored by the Republican National Committee against Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. That same week, Corker aired a closing ad featuring his daughters, Julia and Emily. In their telling, Corker was “dependable,” “honest,” “hilarious,” “welcoming,” “supportive” and “selfless.” Like Daines, Corker “approved this message” because he “wanted you to meet” his daughters.
In 2013, three other candidates used the tactic.
New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio aired an ad starring his daughter, Chiara. Her function was not to introduce her father, but to defend him against negative attacks.
And like Daines, former Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Cheney utilized her daughter to burnish her ties to the state. Daines was raised in Montana but born in Los Angeles. Cheney had the opposite problem: Although she spent part of her early childhood in Wyoming, she spent much of her youth and adulthood in suburban Virginia.
Cheney’s ad featured her daughter, Grace, and Grace’s fellow “fifth-generation Wyomingite” siblings.
And Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s Republican challenger, finance executive Mike McFadden, posted a Web video featuring his daughter, Molly.