A New Kind of Campaign Ad

September, 20 2016

By Ellen Wexler

In his latest campaign ad, Jason Kander stands in an empty warehouse. Wearing a button-down shirt and a blindfold, he begins to assemble an AR-15 rifle.

“Senator Blunt has been attacking me on guns,” he says. “Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle.”

Kander, currently Missouri’s secretary of state, is running for a U.S. Senate seat against Republican incumbent Roy Blunt. Blunt already has an endorsement from the National Rifle Association—which has put out its own ad against Kander. But in the new ad, Kander hopes to play up his military experience.

It isn’t the kind of campaign spot with waving flags and rolling hills. As he assembles the rifle, the sounds of clanking metal echoing across the warehouse, Kander talks about his time in Afghanistan and his positions on gun control. “In the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights,” he says. “I also believe in background checks, so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”

Kander, a Jewish politician, exists in an interesting space in Missouri politics. Missouri typically votes Republican in presidential elections—and in the Senate race, Blunt has been leading Kander in the polls. But over the last few days, the personal narrative Kander’s crafted—a politician who supports background checks, but who has more military experience than his opponent—has earned him a great deal of attention. “I approve this message,” Kander says at the end of the ad, “because I’d like to see Senator Blunt do this.”

Watch the full ad below:


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