Democrat in La. Senate race hopes to sway women with ad focused on Vitter scandals

By Kevin Mcgill, AP
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

La. Dem’s ad seeks to revive Vitter scandals

NEW ORLEANS — The Democratic challenger in Louisiana’s Senate race is airing a documentary-style television ad detailing the prostitution scandal that sent GOP Sen. David Vitter scurrying from public view in 2007.

Rep. Charlie Melancon’s campaign would not say how much it spent on the two-minute ad, which it said started airing Wednesday on cable systems across the state.

The ad features a grainy black-and-white re-enactment of a man resembling Vitter leaving a motel room. It also includes scenes from the news conference where he admitted to an unspecified “serious sin” after his phone number was found among records of a Washington prostitution ring.

And it has audio excerpts from a recorded Hustler magazine interview with a self-identified New Orleans prostitute who alleged in a 2007 press conference that Vitter was her customer, which Vitter has denied.

There’s nothing new in the ad — a longer version has been available on Melancon’s campaign Web site and other Internet sites for months — but Democrats hope showing it on TV will remind Louisiana voters about a series of scandals and votes they say prove Vitter is, in Melancon’s words, “hostile to women.”

Melancon also lately has been critical of Vitter’s vote against the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay law. Then there’s the flap over Vitter keeping an aide on his office payroll for more than two years after the aide was arrested for what a police report said was an knife-wielding attack on his girlfriend.

The aide pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges but didn’t resign until news of the attack broke this past summer.

Vitter, who had made his name in Louisiana as an anti-corruption reformer and family values candidate, kept a low profile in the months after the prostitution scandal erupted.

But he has rebounded with criticism of business bailouts that began under former President George W. Bush and with his near blanket criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies. He leads Melancon by double digits in most polls in a state Obama lost decisively in 2008. He has steadfastly turned down interview requests about the scandals.

Vitter campaign spokesman Luke Bolar, in an e-mailed response to a question about the ad, did not comment on specific points, calling the ad a personal attack designed to divert attention from his record.

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