Editor’s Note: It’s an election year and that means lots of political commercials. Ad Watch is an occasional Civil Beat series in which we help you understand what you’re seeing and hearing when it comes to campaign messages from Hawaii candidates.

If U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa doesn’t think Social Security should be an issue in her bid to unseat Sen. Brian Schatz, she sure has a funny way of showing it.

Hanabusa’s campaign has continually downplayed the Schatz camp’s trumpeting of him as a crusader for Social Security, saying the two candidates barely differ on the issue.

Hanabusa Social Security ad

A screen shot from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s latest TV spot.

Screen shot

They both want to protect the entitlement program.

But Hanabusa just released her second TV spot focusing on her commitment to protecting Social Security and Medicare.

She also also issued a stern warning to anyone who questioned where she stands.

“I’m proud of my record and I will continue to stand up for our kupuna,” Hanabusa says in the 30-second ad. “Don’t let anyone tell you different. Protecting our seniors isn’t something you play politics with ever.”

You can watch the ad here:

Hanabusa’s ad is a direct — albeit late — response to the Schatz campaign. It has low production value — the only camera work is a closeup of her — underscoring the fact that she’s trailing well behind her opponent in fundraising.

Schatz has received several high profile endorsements for his stance on Social Security, including from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

His first TV spot, which came out in March, also focused on Social Security, and highlighted how important the issue is to him as a candidate.

Hanabusa’s new ad also dovetails with a March 31 article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in which she criticized Schatz’s campaign over its Social Security ad, saying it did little more than “scare the kupuna.”

The spot is also the first that attempts to define the congresswoman on the issues.

Her previous ads — one on TV and one on the radio — highlighted her local roots and was targeted to low-income and middle-class voters.

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