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GOP-aligned group uses spelling bee ad to attack Jeanne Shaheen

If you live in New Hampshire and watch TV, you’re about to get a lesson in spelling, courtesy of American Crossroads, the juggernaut GOP-aligned super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove.

The well-funded third-party political group is launching a cheeky TV attack ad tying incumbent Democratic US Senator Jeanne Shaheen to President Obama, whose popularity has sunk to near toxic levels in the Granite State. The ad echoes one of the main campaign themes of Shaheen’s Republican opponent, Scott Brown.

In the 30-second spot — which is set to begin airing Tuesday across the state backed by a whopping $3 million over a week — a girl on stage at a spelling bee struggles to decipher how to spell Shaheen’s name.

She asks the three judges to give the the definition.


“Shaheen: A Washington liberal, out of touch with New Hampshire,” says an older, white-haired woman, who looks the part of a schoolmarm. “Voted for the Obama agenda 99 percent.”

The girl, still seeking help, asks for it in a sentence.

“Jeanne Shaheen was the deciding vote for ObamaCare,” one of the other judges replies, referring to the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health care overhaul that passed the US Senate by a single vote.

Finally, the girl comes up with the answer on how to spell the senator’s name: “O-b-a-m-a.”

The judges look at each other, pause, and conclude, in unison, the answer is “close enough.”

The spot echoes a similar TV ad Crossroads aired against Arkansas US Senator Mark Pryor, a vulnerable incumbent in another state where the president is unpopular, earlier this year.

Shaheen spokesman Harrell Kirstein responded to the new ad in a statement. He said Brown’s “corporate special interest allies” are attempting to purchase him a New Hampshire US senate seat.

“They want Scott Brown back in Washington working for Wall Street and Big Oil,” Kirstein said. “But people here know Jeanne Shaheen and they trust her to always put New Hampshire first and make a difference for New Hampshire.”


Super PACs such as American Crossroads can raise unlimited sums from people, labor unions and corporations.

Shaheen and Brown will face off on Nov. 4 in a contest that will be among those that determine whether Republicans win control of the Senate.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.