Before Scott Brown’s surprise election to the US Senate in 2010, his wife, television reporter Gail Huff, was the far better-known half of the couple.
This week, after staying off the Massachusetts airwaves for two years, Huff is returning to the public stage in two campaign advertisements for her husband.
It’s a new role for Huff, who did not directly campaign for Brown before his special election victory because she was still on the air at WCVB-Channel 5, where she appeared for 17 years. She has become far more visible on the campaign trail this year, after taking a part-time job at WJLA in Washington.
Both advertisements, which are set to begin airing statewide on Tuesday, are aimed at bolstering the Republican senator’s already strong popularity, presenting a warm domestic image of Brown just ahead of Father’s Day. They are also designed to boost Brown’s standing among women, at a moment when his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, has been criticizing him for a vote last week against a measure to expand the rights of working women to challenge employers on pay discrimination.
Brown is banking heavily on his personal appeal, with several ads aimed more at emphasizing his regular-guy persona than his policy positions or political affiliation.
The 30-second television spots are set in their Wrentham home. Huff narrates documentary-style about Brown as he is shown in a Cohasset triathlon T shirt cooking breakfast, folding laundry, and snacking with his wife. In between, photographs flash across the screen: of Huff as a television reporter, the couple’s wedding 25 years ago, their family, and a more recent portrait of the family posing around Brown’s well-known truck.
In a spot titled “Dad,” Huff talks about Brown’s role in raising their daughters, Ayla and Arianna, when Huff would wake up at 1:30 a.m. to work on the morning news.
“Scott did all the morning routine: Get the girls up, get them fed, get them dressed, get them off to school,” she says. “If the kids had a problem, they didn’t call me, they called Dad, because Dad was the one that was always there. And he still is.”
The second ad, titled “Husband,” focuses on his support for her career and her personal identity. She calls Brown “by far the most understanding of women probably of any man I know.”
The Brown campaign did not disclose how much it had spent on the ads or how long they would run.
Brown does better in opinion polls among men than women, which is typical for a Republican candidate. In the most recent Globe poll, conducted late last month, Brown led Warren by 11 percentage points among men. Warren led among women by 5 percentage points.
Warren is hoping to widen that gap among women while Brown tries to narrow it. Not only was Warren critical of Brown’s vote against the “Paycheck Fairness Act” last week, she also has tried to remind voters that he supported the so-called Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny medical coverage for contraception and other medical procedures based on moral objections.
Warren spoke Friday in Providence at a conference of left-leaning bloggers known as Netroots Nation, on a panel called “The War on (and for) Women.”
“It’s about a whole attitude toward women,” Warren said. “Reproductive rights and economic rights are deeply interwoven. The vote yesterday against equal pay for equal work is a vote against women and it empowers those who would then vote against them on reproductive issues.”