Eugene Hedlund acknowledges that when Hollywood and New York filmmakers prepare political ads to target Middle America, they can spark a "backlash." So the self-described former Republican voter's political action committee, TruthandHope.org, teamed up with Hollywood and New York filmmakers to let Middle America speak for itself.
The PAC, founded to support Democrat Howard Dean in his unsucessful 2004 presidential campaign, is running a series of ads spotlighting Obama supporters in solid Republican country — all of them ordinary folks speaking straight to the camera. Each ad runs in the area where it was shot— a strategy that produces its own kind of backlash, with the Obama advocates taking heat from their neighbors.
Several ads in southeast Missouri focus on Darrell Hanschen, who runs a small pharmacy in Jackson, MO. He talks about health care ("Let's get somebody in there who cares about someone who walks the street of Jackson") and taxes ("Joe the Plumber
makes more money than any plumber that I know of"). Here, he talks about a friend who's weighing whether to vote for "the black guy."
Hedlund says one of the doctors in town said he'd never give Hanschen any more business. "These guys have stepped out in red areas, but we're trying to circle the wagons to give 'em some support," said Hedlund. Whenever someone like the pharmacist has a problem, Hedlund sends out an alert to his fundraising list, and supporters send messages of solidarity or sometimes even offer financial support, Hedlund said.
Hedlund is a California mortgage banker who says he supported John McCain in the 2000 primaries and George Bush in the general election that year. The ad buys are all pretty small, but they add up to about $110,000 in all.
In other ads: 81-year-old World War II vet Jack Moore of Nixa, MO, shows off his gun collection and says, "No way will Obama take my guns away." Dana Snodgrass, a small business owner in Joplin, MO, says, "I don't think George Bush and Republican Party truly care about the common people." A guy who repairs rock-crushing equipment in Nevada says, "We've already had the guy we'd like to have a beer with... What we need now is the smartest guy." And a veteran in Columbus, OH, says he voted for McCain in 2000, but "I wouldn't do that today."