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

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz continues to use his significant money advantage over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to inundate Hawaii airwaves with messaging that he hopes will keep him in office well beyond 2014.

Last week, Schatz’s campaign released a TV spot focusing on gun control and the need to protect children from violence, such as what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six staffers before taking his own life.

It’s an easy sell, particularly in a deep blue state like Hawaii that already has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S. And who can argue against wanting to protect our most cherished resource — the keiki?

Check out the ad:

The ad, like previous spots, is well-crafted and professional, not surprising considering Schatz’s campaign has money to burn.

It opens with images of assault rifles and handguns as Schatz says in a voice-over that there are more than 300 million guns in the U.S.

He notes President Barack Obama has said that as many as 40 percent of gun purchases in the U.S. are made without background checks as an image is shown of him and Obama walking together down a hallway.

This highlights the close ties between Schatz and Obama, who has endorsed the senator. And Hawaii is still one of the few places in the country where the president still has a favorable approval rating.

But the campaign might have slipped by using Obama’s 40 percent claim.

The president and other Democrats have been using that figure ever since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. But time after time, fact-checking organizations, such PolitiFact, the Associated Press and the Washington Post, have found the claim squishy at best.

Not only is the statistic based on a decades-old report — “moldy data” as the AP put it — but it also relied on a small sample size and ambiguous questions to get to 40 percent.

The Washington Post even gave the claim “Three Pinocchios” out of a possible four, meaning there is a “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

Schatz quickly pivots from Obama to his children, Tyler and Mia, who he said are the reasons he voted “to require background checks for gun purchases, close the gun show loophole and ban assault weapons.”

What’s curious is that Hanabusa has the same stance on the issue, even articulating her views in a September 2013 Huffington Post piece.

Her campaign has also said the congresswoman supports a ban on assault weapons.

So what exactly is Schatz hoping to accomplish with the latest ad?

First, he’s aligning himself with the majority of voters in the Aloha State, who Civil Beat Poll results show, overwhelming support a ban on assault weapons and expanded background checks.

But secondly — and arguably more importantly — he is introducing himself to voters as a family man who cares for children. He’s already stood up for gender equality and seniors in his previous ads.

And advocating for kids is an effective strategy, especially in a state that values its keiki and kupuna.

DISCUSSION What do you think of Schatz’s latest ad on gun control?

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