Abraham for governor ad causes dust up

A political ad posted to Ralph Abraham's Facebook page features the entire Dodge Ram 2013 Super Bowl commercial, "Farmer." 

I’ll leave it to the lawyers to hash out whether U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s gubernatorial campaign had a right to simply take an old, iconic television commercial for the Dodge Ram and slap its own logo on it. That is, if lawyers for the automotive giant see fit to bother.

But can we just concede here that appropriating the ad was an amateur move?

Viewers of the 2013 Super Bowl might remember the two-minute commercial, a retro-style paean to farmers (and indirectly, to their pickup trucks) with narration by the late conservative radio personality Paul Harvey. There was no actual mention of the product it hoped to sell, which made it easy for Abraham’s campaign to rebrand the whole thing and post it on social media.

Abraham, a Republican from Alto, was raised on a farm, has worked as a rural vet and sits on the House Committee on Agriculture, so he definitely had a point in mind here. He wants to own the rural vote — a generally conservative constituency that the man he’s challenging, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, showed he’s not conceding when he earned a standing ovation at last week’s Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation meeting in New Orleans.

The message was muddled, though.

For one thing, the Abraham campaign didn’t just let Harvey speak for himself. It added this caption: “I heard someone say recently that a farmer isn't qualified to be governor. Well, Paul Harvey and I would respectfully disagree.” Actually, the clip from Harvey said absolutely nothing about Abraham or anyone else’s qualifications for political office.

It did speak at length about the value of putting in a long, grueling day and not cutting corners. So there’s more than a bit of irony in the fact that, rather than producing its own ad, the campaign just helped itself to someone else’s work.

Email Stephanie Grace at sgrace@theadvocate.com.