She’s a maverick, she’s pro-life, she loves hunting and she’s touring part of “real” America.
But Missouri Senate hopeful Sarah Steelman’s campaign says the candidate didn’t take any cues from Sarah Palin for her latest ad.
Locked in a three-way primary for the Republican Senate nomination, Steelman, a former state treasurer, is playing up what her campaign sees as the candidate’s strong suits with a new tour of rural Missouri, accompanied by the new ad, which launched Monday.
Steelman’s campaign told TPM the ad has nothing to do with Palin, but it’s hard not to spot a few familiar themes.
The ad is called “Real Missouri,” what some might see as a play on a phrase Palin coined as the vice presidential nominee in 2008 when she told a North Carolina crowd that the small towns she visited on the trail were “these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.” The ad dings one of Steelman’s opponents, businessman John Brunner, for being from St. Louis.
Steelman campaign spokesman Patrick Tuohey said any similarities to Palin the ad might evoke “certainly wasn’t anything intentional.”
But it’s not the first time Steelman has been compared to Palin. “She was like Sarah Palin before it was cool,” political consultant Jeff Roe, who has worked for Steelman on past campaigns, recently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Missouri Democratic Party has referred to Steelman in the past as “an extreme right-wing clone of Sarah Palin.”
The ad emphasizes rural America, Tuohey said, because it was released in tandem with Steelman’s tour through rural Missouri and because it is running statewide, including in rural parts of the state. The purpose is to stress that Steelman is the “only candidate from rural Missouri, reminding voters who she is.”
Steelman also appears in the ad, touting her pro-life record, while the words “conservative maverick” flash on the screen.
Again, that’s not a reference to Palin.
“I think that resonates in Missouri,” Tuohey said. He said that while Missouri is an increasingly conservative state, voters don’t want a “rubber-stamp Republican.” “I think Missouri voters want to send somebody who will stand up to their party if they need to,” he said. “We’re trying to emphasize the fact that Sarah has done that.”
After Steelman touts her social conservative credentials, she ends the ad by reminding voters that she “loves to hunt” — something Palin is well known for. “Real Missouri” ends with an image of Steelman in camouflage in the woods, a gun beside her.
Watch the ad here.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.