Kasich hires strategist known for provocative campaign ads.
The Columbus Dispatch
WASHINGTON – Fred Davis, a veteran campaign ad man who has produced some of the more iconic GOP campaign ads in recent years, was all set to help Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder run for president when something unexpected happened: Snyder decided not to run.
So Davis, whose ads include the 2008 John McCain “Celebrity” ad poking fun at President Barack Obama’s popularity, took calls from three other would-be GOP contenders. He signed on with the one who had worried him most when he worked for Snyder: Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
As of this week, the Cincinnati-born Davis is media strategist for Kasich’s political group, New Day for America. So is another high-profile campaign strategist, John Weaver, who formerly worked for McCain’s campaign as well as that of 2012 GOP contender Jon Huntsman.
Weaver’s selection was quickly panned by some in the hard-right, who argue that he is too moderate and who are skeptical of him for representing both the party-bucking McCain and the almost aggressively moderate Huntsman. The conservative site HotAir posted an article with the headline: John Kasich taps noted conservative-basher as senior campaign strategist for some reason. “Adding John Weaver to John Kasich is like adding nitroglycerin to a paint-shaker,” one critic tweeted.
Davis told The Dispatch that the same things that appealed to him about Snyder sealed the deal for him with Kasich. Snyder, he said, “doesn’t have a political filter. He tells you what he thinks. He’s a real intellectual and what comes out is usually pretty darn smart. I think with John Kasich it’s the same thing.”
He said he finds Kasich’s candor “incredibly refreshing – something that’s been missing in American politics.”
“In 48 or 49 states, if you ask the governor a question, it’s, ‘I’ll get back to you.’ It’s something that sounds like a political operative wrote it. That is not the case with (Kasich.)”
His ads have not been without controversy. In 2010, Davis produced a commercial for Rep. Pete Hoekstra in his Senate campaign against Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat. The ad referred to Stabenow as Debbie “Spend-it-now” and featured an Asian woman riding a bicycle in what appears to be a rice paddy thanking Stabenow for helping the Chinese economy by putting the United States deeper in debt. Hoekstra ultimately pulled the ad after critics said it was racist.
If there’s a theme to Davis’ ads, it’s this: They are never, ever boring. He portrayed Tom Campbell, a California Republican opposing fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina for Senate in 2010, as a demon sheep. He marketed Snyder for governor as “One Tough Nerd.” He produced the biography of Sarah Palin in 2008 describing her as a “mother, moosehunter, maverick.”
The Hollywood-based consultant said his role will be “the main ad guy” for the 2016 presidential campaign, assuming Kasich runs. He’ll be working both with his team and Kasich’s advisers in Ohio.
He said he first discussed Kasich with former Sen. John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, who is helping Kasich in that state. During a joint election night appearance last November, Sununu started talking about Kasich. Davis, then working for Snyder, considered Kasich a threat to Snyder.
Now that threat is an employer.
So what would a Kasich ad look like? Davis, who also did the famous “I am not a witch” ad in the 2010 U.S. Senate race for Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, said “that’s the $2,000 question.”
“If you look at all ‘Fred’ ads, they all stand out for some reason or another,” he said. “Nobody on the Republican side is going to have the same money, it’s likely, as (former Florida Gov.) Jeb Bush, so Jeb Bush will have more ads than other people, (Florida Sen.) Marco Rubio will have a lot of ads, (Wisconsin Gov.) Scott Walker is going to have probably a lot of ads because they started really, really early, they tied up the early money.
“Every John Kasich ad has to work harder.”
DISPATCH PUBLIC AFFAIRS EDITOR DARREL ROWLAND CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY.
- Ad Wars of 2016 Campaign Erupt in a Changing TV Arena
- Governors Join in Creating Regional Pacts on Climate Change
- John Kasich Super-PAC Borrows Trump-like Helicopter for New TV Ad
- Ad War Breaks Out Between Jeb Bush and John Kasich
- Staffing Up: John Kasich’s Super-PAC Hires Fred Davis as Media Strategist
- Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are joined by Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, Republican strategist Fred Davis and author Jon Meacham on “With All Due Respect.”
- Why Fred Davis is going to miss John Kasich
- Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are joined by New Day for America’s Fred Davis on “With All Due Respect.”
- This episode of Bloomberg TV’s “With All Due Respect” was shot at the Hollywood offices of Strategic Perception Inc.
- Outside GOP group goes in big for Shuster
- Pennsylvania ad: Kasich doesn’t quit
- Pro-Kasich ad hints Trump, Cruz are ‘crazy’
- Drones fly into the political ad wars
- O’Donnell taps Davis for ad magic
- Can McCain’s ads win an Oscar?
- This new anti-Ted Cruz ad is creeptastic
- New Day for America: “Kelly’s courage”
- John Kasich — remember him? — is on the rise in New Hampshire
- Kasich taps two veteran advisers for expected presidential campaign
- This is the ad that won David Perdue the Georgia Senate nomination
- Jon Huntsman to resign from Obama administration
- A tour of a political ad guru’s viral hits for the GOP
- The Fix: The best (positive) campaign ad of the cycle?
- Morning Fix: The Boxer blimp, the Demon Sheep and Fred Davis
- Morning Fix: The best ads we’ve seen so far in the 2010 midterms
- Morning Fix: Are Primaries A Good Thing?
- Race, Celebrity and the Presidential Campaign
- Washington Post’s Fix Blog: McCain Expands Campaign Media Team
- Brand on the Run
- ONE Campaign Hits Airwaves
- Super PAC supporting John Kasich runs Trump-inspired ad
- 2010’s Campaign Scare Tactics
- G.O.P. Ad Maker Fred Davis
- Hot Ads of the Week: GOP Challengers Hitting Dems Hard
- Hot Ads of the Week: GOP Challengers Hitting Dems Hard
- Political Attack Ads Hit the Net
- Super PAC Contrasts Kasich With Trump in New Ad
- The GOP’s Hottest Mad Man
- Best Viral Campaign Ads of 2010
- The GOP Mastermind of Carly Fiorina’s Demon-Sheep Ad
- The Anti-Obama Campaign That Didn’t Happen
- Halperin’s Take: The Five Most Important People in American Politics Not Running for President
- For Kasich, New Hampshire Presence Is Paying Off
- The Problem With Illinois Politics? It’s the Hair (Blagojevich’s, That Is)
- As Economic Crisis Peaked, Tide Turned Against McCain
- McCain Team Scrambles to Rescript Show
- Kasich PAC Won’t Go Negative in New TV Ad Despite South Carolina’s Dirty Politics Reputation
- McCain Beefs Up Ad Roster for General Election
- California Governor’s ‘Backwards’ Spot a Masterpiece
- Kasich super-PAC ad features “The Hug” — and Tim Allen
- Kasich hires strategist known for provocative campaign ads.
- Kasich super PAC secures top adman Fred Davis ahead of possible ’16 bid
- Fracking wars hit the silver screen with supporters’ film “Truthland”
- How political ads get inside your head
- Pro-Huntsman effort launches website, offering 2012 clues
- John King with Fred Davis: Political ads to remember
- GOP’s ad wizard faces ‘demons,’ supports ‘nerds’
- GOP ad “guru” Fred Davis
- John King’s Political Fact Check
- Richard Shelby’s first TV ad of 2016 focuses on visits to all 67 Alabama counties
- Gubernatorial candidate Tim James’ ad ignites Alabama GOP primary
- Exclusive — Colorado Senate Ad Compares Illegal Immigration to Exploding Toilet, D.C. Dysfunction to Proctology Exam
- Meet David Perdue — He Might Be Georgia’s Next Senator
- Georgia’s Senate Race Has the Best Ads of 2014 (So Far)
- David Perdue Portrays GOP Primary Opponents As Crying Babies In Campaign Ad
- California Senate: How Carly Fiorina Pulled Off Her Big “Upset” in the GOP Primary
- Jim Galloway on the 2014 Georgia Senate race.
- Mad Man – the makings of a good political ad
- SPI Once Again Makes the Top Ten
- Nobody does viral ads better than Fred Davis
- FIRST READ: Top 10 TV Ads
- From the ad man who brought us “demon sheep,” a few regrets.
- As Obama hits the campaign trail, “Mourning in America” ad greets him, recalling the Reagan era
- PolitiCal: Demon Sheep creator strikes again
- Fiorina’s “demon sheep” creator speaks
- GOP Increasing Its Lead Over Democrats
- Frank Luntz Focus Groups the “Language” Ad on Hannity
- Alabama Gubernatorial Candidate Tim James Defends Controversial ‘Learn English’ Ad