Ron Paul's TV Ads, Then and Now

By Chris Good

Today Ron Paul launches his first TV ad of the 2012 election cycle, touting his opposition to an increase in the federal debt limit.

Paul's new ad will air in Iowa and New Hampshire as part of a six-figure air-time buy in early primary states, Politico reports. It starts off like a movie trailer and warns that a debt-ceiling deal would only lead to tax increases, asking whether House Speaker John Boehner and Senat Minority Mitch McConnell will stand by their principles and oppose a deal:

This makes him the third major presidential candidate to hit the TV airwaves and the second to advertise his opposition to a debt-limit increase on TV in an early primary state. Last Thursday, Rep. Michele Bachmann began airing an ad in Iowa that touted the same debt-ceiling stance. In late June, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty became the first top-tier candidate to buy TV time, airing this ad in Iowa and following up with another that touted his budget negotiations as governor and Minnesota's government shutdown.

Beyond the significance of yet another GOP candidate campaigning against a hike in the debt limit, despite the Treasury's warnings of default Armageddon, Paul's first ad shows how far his political operation has come.

At the outset of the 2008 campaign, Paul's campaign was unvarnished. Now it's slick, with high production values. The RonPaul.com fan site points us to Paul's first TV ad in the 2008 election cycle, which began airing in New Hampshire in late October 2007:

Another New Hampshire ad from October 2007 featured Paul speaking straight to camera for all 30 seconds, backgrounded by the Constitution:

This December 2007 ad, for both Iowa and New Hampshire, featured a car-salesman-esque narrator talking about health care:

And what Ron Paul supporter could forget the Google Ron Paul video, posted to YouTube in July 2007, which helped spread the word to the congressman's eventual online base?

Paul's campaign started to perfect its ads as the 2008 campaign went on; the production values on this December 2007 immigration ad were notably better.

As a libertarian who ascribes to Austrian economics, wants to end the Fed, and speaks out against U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul still confronts an impression that, no matter how many supporters he has or how ardently they want him to become president, he's still an outlier, and that the Republican Party's nomination is not a realistic goal for him to achieve.

But nothing lends an air of legitimacy like a slick TV ad. Though some still think of him as a ragtag upstart, Paul has moved on from from austerity to the high-dollar business of selling his views in HD.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/ron-pauls-tv-ads-then-and-now/241931/