A screengrab from the Rounds ad, which featured stock photos.
Updated 6:00 p.m. | In a 60-second, introductory Senate campaign ad released last week, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds touts his state’s economy and quality of life — but it’s unclear if any of the people featured in the Republican’s ad are actually from the Mount Rushmore State.
“We’ve done it right around here, and Washington can learn a lot from the people of South Dakota,” Rounds says in the spot.
At least one was definitely not photographed in South Dakota. The “woman at the meeting” photo was taken at the Getty Images office in Paris, the England-based photographer who shot it confirmed in an email to CQ-Roll Call.
Rounds, who served two terms as governor, is the frontrunner in the crowded Republican Senate primary. Should he win the nomination, Rounds would be favored for the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in the GOP’s top pickup opportunity in the country.
The ad will be part of a $500,000 overall buy for the next two months and will join a rotation of ads ahead of the June 3 primary, according to a Rounds spokesman.
It was released just two days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., campaign released an online ad that mistakenly featured a photo of Duke basketball players celebrating winning the national championship, rather than the University of Kentucky. That spot was eventually pulled down.
When reached by CQ Roll Call, Democratic and Republican media consultants with experience in South Dakota doubted that any of the people in the photos were from the state and were surprised to see so many stock photos used in an introductory TV ad by a top Senate candidate.
Update: A couple hours after this story was published, Rounds spokesman Mitch Krebs told CQ Roll Call the ad would not be part of the campaign’s TV media buy after all. (That’s even though the campaign issued a release of the spot Thursday titled, “Check out my new TV ad.”)
“When our paid TV spots do hit the airwaves you will see nothing but South Dakota made imagery and content,” Krebs said.