Editor’s Note: Ad Watch is an occasional Civil Beat series in which we analyze campaign messages from Hawaii candidates.

Few candidates running for office in Hawaii fail to mention the V-word — values — when appealing to local voters.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is actually using the word in the title of his second television commercial for his re-election campaign: “Neil Abercrombie: Values.”

View the clip:

Though Abercrombie never had children, anyone who has seen him interact with kids knows that he has a knack for connecting with them.

The new ad depicts the governor as both a patriarch standing firm with a rainbow coalition of keiki but also as a grandfatherly type, the Wilford Brimley of Hawaii. Abercrombie actually holds one of the kid’s hands near the end of the clip as several keiki and three women look on approvingly.

(Given the blank looks on the faces of some of the kids, it would seem that none are hired actors.)

The ad states that preschool is a priority for Abercrombie, just as it is for Barack Obama. The president is far more popular than the governor in the islands, so it’s wise to point out ties between the two pols.

The advertisement, interestingly, comes as the governor’s bill on establishing an Early Childhood Education Program within the the state’s Early Learning System died at the Legislature on the last day of conference committee.

Voters will still vote in November on a ballot measure favored by the administration that would allow the state to use public money for private preschools. And a plan to develop pre-kindergarten classrooms at some of the state’s public schools did pass, although with less funding than requested.

Abercrombie has another reason to play the keiki card: His Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige, has the backing of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the ones who teach in the public schools and can probably be counted on to campaign for Ige. Ige’s campaign has also been posting large signs around the state showing him, his wife and three kids.

The first TV spot for the governor, incidentally, came out at the same time Abercrombie delivered his State of the State address in January. Not coincidentally, it was titled “Neil Abercrombie: State of Our State.”

It’s not likely the campaign will use that ad again, however, as it played up the fact that the state (thanks to the gov’s leadership) had a budget surplus in excess of $800 million — something that is no longer the case today.

Here’s that ad:

Contact Chad Blair via email at cblair@civilbeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.

About the Author