If you didn’t think the GOP gubernatorial primary campaign was heating up as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner tune up for their final televised debate on Sunday, you will after watching this ad, which is running statewide (at a $2 million per week burn rate):
Some political observers say GOP underdog Poizner’s ad risks offending some Republicans, who might not agree with attacking capitalist titans. That it’s an issue that plays well with Democrats but not so with Republicans.
Others say it reminds Republicans that his GOP rival Whitman will be carrying some heavy baggage into the general election if she wins the primary. Others of the Tea Party variety are said to be just as turned off by the greed and avarice that Goldman Sachs represents, and could turn against Whitman in the primary in the same way independents and Democrats would in a general election.
Whitman flack Tucker Bounds countered, “If I was running 30 points behind with 39 days left, I’d stay away from circling vultures in my ads.”
Less slick but as effective is this nearly two-minute long video produced by a newly emboldened Poizner team:
It’s running on YouTube, and has only had 405 views, so the obvious impact will be made with the TV ad. In either case, Whitman is reeling from a crushing week, hounded daily by stories about her ties to Goldman Sachs.
She’s tried to frame it as old news, saying the stock “spinning,” in which she gained nearly $2 million in quick turnaround profits but had to return after eBay shareholders sued her, took place 10 years ago. But she has untold millions from her personal wealth currently tied up in investments with Goldman Sachs, and the imagery of her sitting there with a handful of board members on the compensation committee handing out multi-million dollar bonuses to Goldman Sachs’ corporate execs is freshly relevant as the public’s anger over such perks continues to seethe.
The Poizner team is hitting her hard on her support of the highly unpopular (among Republicans and Democrats alike) bank bailout during the 2008 presidential campaign, accusing her of looking out for her own interests. If the firm had been allowed to fail a la the Lehman Brothers, she would have lost a fortune, said Jarrod Agen, spokesman for Poizner.
“She was a vocal voice in favor of the bank bailout,” Agen said. “That she was tied to one of the companies that was bailed out is not a positive message for Republican primary voters. She took an active role in a bailout of a company where she would have taken a huge financial loss if Goldman Sachs went under.”
Poizner’s campaign knows the race is tightening, Agen said, by the pushback ads Whitman is running. This is titled “Cliff,” which takes Poizner’s own ad imagery and plays it against him:
Still, Poizner’s team says it’s feeling a shift in momentum.
“The strategy we’ve been talking about for months is working,” Agen said. “And we’re getting the added benefit of Goldman Sachs as a significant issue. The Goldman Sachs controversy calls into question the personal strength Whitman had, her business sense. The fact she was on the board of a company entwined in scandal does not look good.”
Bounds dismisses talk of momentum shifts and Goldman Sachs negatives.
“At the end of the day, voters realize that Meg’s business experience is a California success story of growing eBay from 30 employees to 15,000 in building a cornerstone employer in Northern California. The fact that she was on (Goldman Sachs’) board for 15 months nearly 10 years ago, that that’s the most salacious TV ad they could put together — voters are too smart. They’ll see through this.”