PHILADELPHIA — Democrat Joe Sestak's cheeky TV ad about dog poop has tails wagging in the fiercely contested Pennsylvania Senate race.
In the ad, Sestak compares cleaning up after his family dog Belle to cleaning up the economic mess that he says his GOP rival Pat Toomey and former President George W. Bush played a big part in creating.
"My family loves Belle, but she can make a mess," Sestak says in the ad, which ran for more than a week.
There's a shot of Sestak gingerly depositing a bag of dog doo in a trash barrel.
"It made me sick to bail out the banks, but I had to clean up the mess left by these guys," Sestak adds, with a photo of Toomey and Bush behind him.
Toomey complained Monday that Sestak, a U.S. representative, is using the ad to duck responsibility for his votes on such things as the Wall Street bailout and the economic stimulus package.
"The fact is, Joe Sestak deserves more than his fair share of the blame for this, and nobody but Joe Sestak is responsible for his votes," Toomey said. "I just don't think people are going to be fooled by that."
Every election appears to feature at least one memorable ad that manages to break through the heavy clutter of campaign attack commercials that flood the television airwaves. Pennsylvania Democrats are hoping Sestak's dog ad can propel him to the Senate.
Donald Bradbury, 43, an independent from the Philadelphia suburb of Media who is leaning toward voting for Toomey, said he snickered when he first saw the ad. But he'd prefer it if candidates ignored gimmicks and stuck to the issues.
"No one cares about his dog," said Bradbury, a computer technician.
Mary Walker, 66, a Democrat from the suburban community of Secane and a retired energy company administrator, said while she's sick of all the political ads on TV, she enjoyed Sestak's dog ad.
"That hit home because we've been cleaning up after the Republicans," she said.
The Campaign Group, the political firm that worked on the "Belle" ad with Sestak, also helped produce an ad that played a big role in propelling Sestak past longtime Sen. Arlen Specter in the May primary.
Specter suffered from the perception among Democratic voters that he was a Republican at heart and switched his party registration last year only for personal political gain. The ad struck home by quoting Specter in an apparent boast that his party switch "will enable me to be re-elected."
Sestak said late Monday that his dog ad was effective because it was simple and unique.
"It really broke through for us," he said, adding that the ad has been popular online as well.
Sestak said his campaign was preparing to air a new ad that featured him speaking directly to the camera to talk about accountability.
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