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“He spent his whole adult life ... making money as a hedge fund manager, working through the Cayman Islands, doing tax shelters,” says a woman interviewed on the street for a campaign ad. “And I’m really concerned that he hasn’t released any of his financial records.”
The video looks and sounds like a spot attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney; but it’s not. Instead, the Wisconsin Democratic Party Web video takes on GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde, a wealthy businessman whose vulnerabilities closely mirror Romney’s.
The Senate race in Wisconsin is one of many Congressional races across the country where the national Democrats’ portrayal of Romney neatly coincides with Democratic Congressional candidates’ framing of their wealthy Republican opponents. Democratic strategists said that the national narrative about Romney reinforces the message that Republicans downballot also are out of touch, even if their campaigns are not explicitly drawing the connection to Romney.
“I think Mitt Romney is a caricature, a mascot for the Republican economic policies. He is emblematic of who they fight for,” said Matt Canter, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman. “I think voters get that. I think that has had an impact on the atmosphere, and I think it will continue to have an impact.”
The Democratic attacks on Romney’s business practices and financial wealth have varied from complaints that he has disclosed too few years of tax returns to allegations that he has invested in companies that sent jobs overseas. Democratic criticism of GOP Congressional candidates picks up on a number of elements of the Romney criticism, varying from race to race.
The outsourcing issue has also taken hold in New York’s 1st district, where Republican candidate Randy Altschuler has come under fire for founding a company that helped businesses send jobs overseas.
The Democratic National Committee promoted stories offering a glimpse of Romney’s lavish lake home in New Hampshire. Accordingly, Democratic operatives sat outside GOP Rep. Jim Renacci’s large Ohio residence and recorded video that was later posted on YouTube.
Democrats are pursuing similar strategies in additional races that feature wealthy GOP candidates.
Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) and former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp have both attempted to portray their opponents as wealthy and out of touch. Heitkamp’s campaign has released a video of opponent Rep. Rick Berg struggling to recall the state’s minimum wage.
The video calls him “millionaire Rick Berg” and ends with the assertion: “He wins, we lose.”