WASHINGTON — With the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsing Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., a new television spot by former Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., features his pregnant ob-gyn sister, Dr. Kristie Dold Bennett, vouching for him on women’s reproductive issues.
Meanwhile, the latest Schneider ad reminds voters Dold is a Republican — a party label Dold is aggressively playing down.
The ads, released this week, come as the battle for the hotly contested north suburban 10th congressional seat in Illinois is being fought increasingly on television and digital paid advertising platforms.
As we get closer to November, there will be a lot of other political spots competing for your attention, especially in the Illinois governor race with Gov. Pat Quinn pitted against Bruce Rauner.
The ad starring Dr. Bennett seems to me an early preemptive strike, coming before the deluge of political ads on Chicago TV that might drown it out.
This Dold spot implicitly deals with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsement for Schneider, which came after the March Illinois primary. Because Dold supports abortion rights, as does Schneider, in 2012 the Planned Parenthood Action Fund stayed out of the race.
But Congress votes on a variety of female-health-related issues, and in 2014 the Planned Parenthood Action Fund is siding with Schneider. Though Dold opposed a GOP-led effort to defund Planned Parenthood when he was in the House — even spoke against it from the House floor — he voted for a massive funding bill that kept the federal government open but also took aim at Planned Parenthood.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a March statement, “Schneider has remained unwavering in his support for women’s access to quality health care, and we need more leaders like him who will stand up for women’s health and speak out against extreme efforts to reduce women’s rights.” Schneider scored 100 percent on the 2014 Planned Parenthood scorecard.
Dold needed a rebuttal and produced a very smart ad. Dold is lucky enough to have for the testimonial a sister who is an ob-gyn, with a baby due in October, who practices in the north suburbs and who is very telegenic.
“Patients deserve the freedom to make their own choices,” says Dr. Bennett, wearing a lab coat with the ad shot in a medical office in north suburban Buffalo Grove. “Bob understands. This isn’t the government’sbusiness. From disease prevention to family planning, these are personal issues. Washington shouldn’t limit the choices women have in their own health care. Women need someone on their side, and I’m proud to say that’s Bob Dold.”
As for timing, the Bennett ad is being televised before direct mail pieces highlighting the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsement hit 10th district mailboxes, whether sent from the Fund, the Schneider campaign or other Democratic allies.
A major Schneider campaign thrust is to win votes by shining a spotlighton the fact that Dold is a Republican and tying him to House GOP policies that may be unpopular in the 10th district. Dold’s spots don’t mention his party affiliation.
Since Dold avoids identifying himself as a Republican, Schneider, who gladly takes on the Democrat label, does it for him in his new spot, where a narrator says Dold being a Republican is so obvious, “Some things anyone can see . . . ” The spot links Dold to the GOP-led voteto defund Planned Parenthood.
Dold and Schneider cast themselves as independent-minded political figures who seek ways to reach across the aisle. But the reality is Schneider and Dold don’t play for the same team. That’s a factor that will be looming larger in the weeks ahead in the race for the 10th congressional district seat.