I’ve got to hand it to Jason Kander, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Roy Blunt:
He appears to winning the gun game.
Many candidates are playing the gun game these days, that is, trying to show that they are stronger Second-Amendment rights supporters than their opponents.
That’s why you see an ad with Republican gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens shooting some huge, machine-gun type weapon while seated behind it. The viewer sees a close-up of the weapon spitting out dozens of shell casings in seconds. At the end of the ad, Greitens turns toward the camera and offers a big grin, as if to say, “Yep, I’m your guy!”
Then, of course, there’s his Democratic opponent, Chris Koster, who, while he doesn’t have any ads (not yet anyway) of him handling, firing or stroking a weapon, his record on gun control is so strong that he got the NRA’s endorsement over Greitens. It’s the first time in memory that a Democratic candidate got that endorsement over a Republican in the governor’s race…Of course, Koster once was a Republican, so he must have history with the NRA.
But you’ve gotta love the current TV-ad exchange between the National Rifle Association (which is backing Blunt) and Kander.
(You can see both ads if you go to this Kansas City Star story.)
First, there’s the NRA ad, which starts out with an intruder breaking into a resident’s home in pre-dawn darkness. The front door crashes open, and a voice says: “You have a right to protect your home with a firearm. But liberal politician Jason Kander voted against your right…Jason Kander refused to defend your 2nd Amendment rights in Jefferson City. How could you trust him in Washington?
Not bad. But Kander’s counterpunch ad is one that could go down as a classic in pulling the rug out from under a candidate who thinks he has one interest group nailed down.
It shows Kander, blindfolded, standing in what appears to be either a vacant underground parking lot or perhaps an industrial building. A gun similar to an AK-47 lies in front of him on a table. Kander starts to assemble it, and he conducts a monologue about Blunt while doing so.
“I’m Jason Kander,” he begins. “Sen. Blunt has been attacking me on guns. Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle. In Afghanistan, I’d volunteer to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs.
“And in the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks, so the terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”
While he’s talking and proceeding through a basic four- or five-step assembly process, the gun pieces click with an echo as they go into place.
As he finishes, he says, “I approve this message…” and pauses as he removes his blindfold, before delivering the kicker…”cause I’d like to see Sen. Blunt do this.”
I laughed out loud at that closing when I first saw it today…This is one of the most creative political ads I’ve ever seen, and it grabs and holds the viewers’ attention.
…The Star’s story about the ad says Kander owns a gun but that the one in the commercial belongs to his brother. Reporter Scott Canon also notes that Blunt is not a military veteran.
In this election, where playing up to military veterans is a top priority at many levels, the Republicans and the NRA are going to have trouble denting Kander’s armored vest.
After 9/11, he enlisted in the Army National Guard, and while attending law school at Georgetown University, earned his commission through the university’s ROTC battalion. After getting his law degree, he volunteered for a tour in Afghanistan, where he served as an intelligence officer — rank of lieutenant — investigating groups and individuals suspected of corruption, espionage, drug trafficking, and facilitating Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
When Kander announced his Senate candidacy early last year, I thought he didn’t have a prayer. I speculated he was looking to build name identity for another statewide race somewhere down the line. Obviously, that’s not the case; he’s running to win now.
When they go to the polls Nov. 8, Missouri voters are going to face some interesting and provocative choices at the top of the ballot: Trump-Clinton, Greitens-Koster, Blunt-Kander. Not too long ago, I would have bet the winners would be Trump, Greitens and Blunt. Now, I’m more interested in watching than betting.