“This isn’t the fanciest ad you’ll see, but it is the most honest,” says Dr. John Malm, one of Billie Sutton’s neighbors, in what I’d like to believe is the ad that shuts Kristi Noem up once and for all:
KELO-TV won’t have to fact-check this one: unlike the Republican convention delegates and convicted felon Kristi Noem included in her attack ad on Sutton, these local folks aren’t afraid to identify themselves, either in the ad or in the Sutton campaign press release. Joining Dr. Malm are Christi Rozeboom, Bryan Hanson, Dean Rozeboom, Virginia Tolstedt, Mike Jones—Billie Sutton’s wrestling coach Mike Jones:
The thing about Billie is his work ethic and his drive. I mean, I say that to tons of people. I think that’s what’s going to make him be just a great governor [Mike Jones, in Sutton “Real Neighbors” campaign ad, posted 2018.11.03].
In those nine second, Mike Jones names more specific qualities of the candidate, grounded in his own observation and experience, to justify his claim, than anyone in Noem’s attack ad said to justify their recitations of Noem’s propaganda that Sutton is a lying liberal.
By itself, this Sutton ad would be no big deal. Nice people say nice things about the candidate—everybody runs that kind of ad. But as a response to Noem’s nameless neighbor attack ad, this video is perfect. It not only negates what little impact the Noem ad might have had but also makes ridicules Noem on multiple levels. Rewatch her ad:
“Not the fanciest…”—yup! There’s no optimal lighting. There’s all sorts of noise—café chatter, wind on the mic. Maybe Sutton hired a camera crew, but they worked really hard not to look like a camera crew and instead to make it look like they just told a campaign staffer to grab the camera, point and shoot. Compare that to the controlled indoor settings and close-ups in Noem’s video.
“…but… the most honest”—yup! Sutton’s video shows the speakers in real, clear settings—in town, on the farm, at the café in front of the house with the Sutton and Cougars signs, out by the field with cows crapping in the background. That’s Burke. That’s where Billie’s from. Noem’s speakers are framed by blurry, nondescript backgrounds—maybe a house, maybe an office, but they could be anywhere. Not one visual element in Noem’s video says, “Hey! There’s Burke!”
Sutton’s ad shouts local authenticity, while Noem’s shouts, “Lights! Make-up!” Without mention Noem’s name, Sutton’s ad thus puts an exclamation point on the difference between him, the real hometown boy with neighbors he cares about and who care about him, and Noem, the still mean-girl beauty queen, obsessed with image and winning over substance and service.