In the final week of his campaign, Ed Gillespie is not talking about job creation, the economy, Ebola, or national security. He's making a final pitch to voters by promising them that if elected to the Senate, he won't vote to change the Washington Redskins controversial name.
There has been movement on Capitol Hill to revoke the Redskins tax-exempt status in an effort to pressure Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that Snyder is on "the losing side of history."
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a bill to force the Redskins to change their name. Mark Warner refused to answer if he supports the bill or not. Why won't Warner fight the anti-Redskins bill? Why won't he answer the question?" a narrator says in the new ad.
The camera then switches to a direct address from Gillespie.
"I'll answer the question," Gillespie says at a kitchen table, almost in a chuckle. "I'll oppose the anti-Redskins bill. Let's focus on creating jobs, raising take home pay, and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team."
Warner's office actually confirmed to The Washington Post in May that the senator did not support congressional efforts to force the Redskins to change its name.
The shift to protect a professional football team in the final week of a campaign is a mark of just how desperate the Gillespie campaign appears to be. The ad is a last-ditch effort to appeal to voters on a polarizing issue that is not likely to move many constituents this late in the game. It's an attempt to grab media attention in a race where Gillespie has struggled to stay competitive with Warner when it comes to raising money and advertising on television. A well-known D.C. lobbyist and former head of the Republican National Committee, Gillespie has failed to make the race against Warner close despite the fact that he's running in a swing state in an election year when President Obama's approval rating is floundering at 32 percent in Virginia.
Most independent analysis of the race have labeled the Senate contest an easy win for Democrats. The latest Roanoke College poll has Warner up 13 points over Gillespie, with most voters locked in with little time until Election Day. Warner is leading Gillespie by 20 points among women and 5 points among men, with few undecided voters left to convince. Even an ad as provocative as one about a pro-football team mid-season won't reverse Gillespie's course.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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