Berg’s ‘Mom’ ad recycles Democratic Va. legislator’s 2011 pitch

Rick Berg

FARGO – The digital posterity of YouTube can be revealing.

Case in point? Turns out the specific concept for North Dakota Republican Rep. Rick Berg‘s first Senate campaign ad isn’t all that original.

Berg made his campaign’s commercial debut earlier this week in an ad offering a personal pitch from Berg and his mom, Francie.

But when Florida blogger and Virginia native Kenton Ngo stumbled upon Berg’s “Mom” ad on Friday, he noticed the exact concept had been done before – just last year, in fact, by a former Democratic state lawmaker in Virginia.

As Ngo wrote on his website, “recycling ads is nothing new, especially when the focal point is one of the most enduringly positive concepts in America: a candidate’s mother.”

It’s also not novel to use family members in promoting a candidate’s personal image, along with their campaign.

The issue with Berg’s ad, though, is that it was executed nearly the same way as the ad produced in 2011 for Ward Armstrong, the former minority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates who went on to lose his last race.

The similarities are noticeable in both the content and the production: mother and son sitting at the family table with a spread of family photo albums, the joking banter, a proud mom describing her son’s hard-working youth with a policy pitch slipped in, even the hand-written display font.

Here’s Berg’s ad, which he began airing earlier this week:

And here’s Armstrong’s ad, which is dated Sept. 1, 2011:

North Dakota Democrats latched on to the gaffe by accusing Berg of “plagiarizing an East Coast politician’s ad.”

“In Washington, Congressman Berg has been an active player in the petty partisan squabbles that are driving our country off the cliff, putting his own national political career and Washington political games before the interests of North Dakota,” Dem-NPL spokeswoman Alison Kelly said. “Now, Berg is approaching his Senate campaign with the same cut-and-paste Washington approach.”

Berg’s campaign spokesman Chris Van Guilder offered the following statement in response and did not answer questions from The Forum specifically about Berg’s ad, such as why the two ads were so similar in production.

“Rick Berg is committed to balancing the budget, reining in wasteful spending, reducing burdensome overregulation, and growing our economy,” Van Guilder said in his statement to The Forum. “It’s no surprise that barely 24 hours after he had an important piece of bi-partisan, pro-jobs legislation signed into law, Democrats launched this completely baseless attack against him in an effort to avoid a discussion of the issues important to North Dakotans.”


Originally posted 11:20 a.m. Updated: 3:35 p.m. and 6:40 p.m.

9 thoughts on “Berg’s ‘Mom’ ad recycles Democratic Va. legislator’s 2011 pitch

  1. Brilliant piece. People in politics using others ideas. Geez, groundbreaking stuff here. Every politician, from both parties use stuff that works. For crying out loud, Heitkamp copied a Chamber ad just a few weeks ago.
    So if Heitkamp puts a billboard up with the prairie in the background, is she copying from Earl Pomeroy? If Dalrymple mentions our oil patch, is he stealing from Hoeven? Look out, I bet Kevin Cramer talks about being pro life. Somone notify Gary Bauer, he stold something from his campaign stump speech.
    You know, you are a talented writer. You really are, but the bias is silly. You have the chance to be the best reporter in this state if you would just call it down the middle and leave it to your readers to make up your mind.
    We get it, you’re a Democrat. But you’re also a journalist. Call it fair.

    • MY GOODNESS AREN’T WE SENSITIVE!!! IMAGINE CRITICIZING A REPUBLICAN IN THE FOR’EM. WHAT ARE THINGS COMING TO. IF THIS TALENTED WRITER WANTS TO COVER SOME REAL THIEVERY, SHE SHOULD CHECK OUT BERG’S USE OF THE FRANKING PRIVILEGE TO RIP OFF TAXPAYERS WITH HIS PHONY CONSTITUENT SERVICE MAILINGS. IT NEVER ENDS. SOME TIMES THERE AREN’T TWO SIDES TO A STORY.

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