I only wish I could link to the stunningly vapid video that the Mike Rounds for Senate campaign released a couple of days ago--so bad that he and his staff pulled it from Youtube within a day or two of its posting. First off it was filled with stock footage of folks that Rounds intimated were happy and healthy South Dakotans, but it was actually as cheesy a gallery of posed photos as you'll ever want to see. It even got Roll Call's attention, which did a picture-by-picture disclosure of the photos' origins from Shutterstock and Getty. You'd think a campaign sporting millions of dollars in its war chest could send a South Dakota-based photog to visit and take pics of South Dakota residents doing South Dakota jobs and enjoying South Dakota recreational opportunities for further transmission through South Dakota-designed and produced videos intended to sway South Dakota voters. But no, Mike Rounds, whose persistent theme during his tenure as governor was South Dakota economic and workforce development decided to forsake his fellow South Dakota professionals and residents and use non-South Dakotans instead. Way to help out with economic and workforce development in your home state, Governor. Cory Heidelberger over at Madville Times called the ad "inauthentic," an adjective to which I would add "inept."
Besides the ineptitude though, there's an attitude that comes with this pro-forma and dismissive approach to advertising. It seems consistent with a cavalier I-can't-be-touched smugness that so far defines the Rounds campaign. Thinking that the obvious plasticity of the video would sail right over the heads of South Dakotans reveals a condescending, if not altogether disdainful, perspective on the campaign's view of South Dakota's electorate. That the ad was instantly trashed and exposed for what it is by a bunch of sharp-eyed commenters on Madville Times should remind Rounds and everybody else who's running for office in this state that you can't fool all the people all the time.
After chiding Rounds for months about not coming out, I now understand why the former governor is playing peek-a-boo with the voters. Public appearances run the risk of sudden exposure, as the misfired video demonstrates. If Rounds can't come across as authentic, forceful, imaginative and genuinely caring about South Dakotans in a tightly controlled puff video in which all the elements are orchestrated to present him at his best, I doubt that he'll come across well in the real-life setting of a campaign, where he'll have to answer tough questions from the media and his opponents--and do so standing on his feet in front of the public. I think he's chicken and that he has good reason to be.
As a Republican, I've been extremely disappointed by Rounds' reluctance to speak out on the big issues facing the U.S. Senate these days. There are also South Dakota-specific matters of importance that could stand his commentary, given his status as the former governor. Medicaid expansion is one. His role as overseer during the EB-5/Northern Beef Packers fiasco is another. And as to his term as governor, Rounds could explain the growth of state government during his tenure, along with the $127 million deficit that greeted his successor. Presumably Rounds would join the Republican effort in D.C. to control government growth and reduce deficits. So what happened in Pierre?
I'm sure Rounds' campaign handlers will fend off these calls to come out of hiding with their standard disclaimer that there will be plenty of time to discuss these matters later. That approach has good reason to it: why risk a big lead in money and stature by actually exposing the real man to public scrutiny? Answer: With Mike Rounds that's too much of a risk.