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Analysis: Ads For Virginia Senate Race Seek To Cut Through Political Clutter

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If you live in the D.C. area and have turned on the television recently, you've probably noticed a few political ads, particularly for the Senate race in Virginia between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen. Shane Goldmacher, congressional correspondent for National Journal, talks to WAMU Morning Edition host Matt Bush about how the content of those ads speaks to the pressures facing Virginia.

On how talks of the cuts to the Defense Department affecting the race: "The Defense cuts have really taken center stage both in the advertisements and out on the campaign trail. At issue is all these defense cuts that are coming at the beginning of next year. George Allen is attacking Tim Kaine for supporting the Congressional compromise that has birthed these looming cuts, which Tim Kaine says he wants to avoid. Kaine has been attacking Allen for not wanting to compromise ever, and not being one to come up with the kind of deal that would divert these cuts."

On the George Allen ads that attack Tim Kaine for cuts to education during his time as Governor: "Tim Kaine's first ad of this campaign featured him doing something unique: to move to the right of the Republicans on spending. He said he was the fiscally responsible one, he cut spending. It's a vulnerability for the Republicans to have a Democrat go to the right. So they pulled from the Democratic playbook a little bit, saying, 'You cut spending? Yeah, well you cut schools.'"

On how effective these kinds of ads will be in a close race: "This is a race that has essentially been tied since it started almost a year ago. The ads are really a challenge for them, because Virginia is not just a place with a competitive Senate race, but one that has a competitive Presidential race — perhaps the most important swing state by some calculations. So these ads are trying not just to attack one another, but to break through the clutter of President Obama and Mitt Romney attacking each other. And so, things like a fellow Democrat accusing Tim Kaine of cutting eduation and that being a 'kick in the teeth,' that's a hope that George Allen and his team hopes can cut through the clutter.

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