New Tom Cotton Ad Plays Down Ideology and Plays Up Personal Relatability

May 28, 2014

US Rep. Tom Cotton and his wife Anna in the ad "Roots."

Tom Cotton’s campaign for Senate is out with a new television advertisement suggesting humble Arkansas origins as the source of Cotton’s conservative ideology.

Click here to view Cotton's "Deep Roots" advertisement.

“This house has been in my family for decades. Deep roots connect you to values and values drive decisions,” said Cotton in the advertisement.

Hal Bass, a political scientist at Ouachita Baptist University, said the ad with Cotton’s newly married wife in the background attempts to bring Cotton’s image out of the realm of principled, conservative thinker and into something more relatable.

“It’s an effort or acknowledgement that Cotton needs to introduce himself to Arkansans as a person and not simply as a person with conservative ideas or ideals. It’s a clear and I think effective effort to associate himself with Arkansas values on an individual as opposed to ideological basis,” said Bass.

The ad does not mention Cotton’s military service, votes cast, or direct criticisms of Democratic opponent Mark Pryor. It does mention and show his wife Anna.

“I’ll stay connected to my roots, Anna will make sure of that,” said Cotton in the commercial.

Bass said the direction of the ad may prove helpful since Cotton is not as familiar as the Pryor family to most Arkansans.

“I think it humanizes him. He had been away from the state for a long time and hadn’t really established his identity here. He’s trying to again connect or re-connect in a way that emphasizes the Arkansas connection which has been a very potent weapon for his opponent Mark Pryor,” said Bass.

Bass said Democratic opponent Mark Pryor has already somewhat successfully managed, in large part thanks to his family, to convey himself as a person beyond the confines of political ideologies and positions.

Cotton’s campaign spokesman David Ray said the ad is expected to play through mid-June in the Fort Smith area on both broadcast and cable television. Ray noted the campaign is also running an online-only advertisement criticizing Senator Pryor's response to recent allegations against aspects of the Veterans Health Administration.

Pryor's campaign has responded to the online advertisement calling it "misleading."