Praise and Criticism

A small discussion erupted in comments on my daughter’s YouTube commercial. Since YouTube limits responses to 500 characters, I decided to respond here.

I’m sorry the ad offended you.

At the beginning of October, I joined Sgt. Marshall Thompson through Davis County on his protest walk through the state. It has also been my honor to talk with many returning GI’s and stand for their voices. It is all too easy for many to discard what these men and women say, but I deeply value their perspective. I have spent time with them, attended funerals, and spoken publicly for taking care of them logistically now and after they return.

I hope you have taken the time to read my online journal, look at my press releases, read interviews with me, and watch the debates. Frankly, I started this 30 second commercial on a serious tone and realized that nobody would care and it would just be written off as another candidate yakking about what all candidates yak about. In fact, I recorded six of these style of commercials and got next to no response. The press releases I have written on serious topics like decrying acceptance of torture as an interrogation tactic have been ignored wholesale by the press. However if I paint my old motorhome, hold a benefit dinner for the hungry, do something different, something unique, everyone is all over it. “American Idol” vs. “Frontline”, what is more popular?

The radio version of this has already received extra press and is being passed around, and that is the goal. When you’re on a tight budget, it is creativity and guerrilla tactics that get you attention, not the same old recipe that Democrats have been losing on for years.

“You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” This is never truer than for a candidate. I consistently receive praise and criticism from all sides. I take it all in, respond to as much of it as I can, then try to do what my heart tells me is right.

24 thoughts on “Praise and Criticism

  1. Pete –

    As I have told you time and again, you are a refreshing and inspiring candidate. I’m sorry this person was so offended by your daughter’s ad. She is not a dumb baby, she is a beautiful little girl and when you get to *this* point in a political campaign, it’s really time to lighten up. We have 10 more days of this. You have been going for two years. And I agree – everyone is sick and tired of hearing candidates blather on.

    You have been a stalwart in the most difficult campaign in all of Utah. Keep going. The incumbent senator may be the goliath, but you are one of the bravest people I have ever met. You have taken on the entire GOP machine with this race and you are to be commended for that.

    Best to you. Keep going.


  2. Perhaps you can try to find a better balance between being different and original and having more substance. I’d love to see a commercial that’s creative and gets peoples attention so that you can tell them why you’d be a great senator. Good luck in the next couple weeks, though. I’ll be wearing my Ashdown for Senate sweatshirt every day (all day) for the next couple weeks.

  3. I think Pete would be better served if the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee helped raise money for him at least a couple months ago. It seems rather hypocritical for the DSCC to say on its own website on the Utah 2006 Senate Race that “Ashdown is running a grassroots campaign with online organizing and a strong earned media effort” yet Ashdown has almost ZERO support from the DSCC. Heck, even Howard Dean seems to have ignored Utah.

    Even though Democrats think Orrin Hatch is unbeatable, shouldn’t they want a pro-business candidate like Ashdown on their side so at least they have an additional U.S. Senator who is a proven fiscal conservative? Democrats need to show they can balance the U.S. budget.

    Still, I think given Pete Ashdown’s budget compared to Orrin Hatch’s and the fact that Utah is a notoriously Red State, the effort made by Ashdown is very effective. Just by Ashdown running for the U.S. Senate, he’s helped energize Democrats in Utah.

    Also, I think Pete did an effective job in the debates with Orrin Hatch. Before I watched them, I was worried how Ashdown might fare. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he appeared confident and sharp.

    Whether Ashdown wins the Senate or not, I think it would be wise if he continues on to promote himself in being a voice for the Democratic Party.

  4. I would like to further explain my comments that I posted on Youtube supporting Wisewaif and how he was DISAPOINTED (not offended) by the commercial. I am sure we all agree that the commercial is cute, makes us smile, and is something totally different than what is out there by Hatch. If I have to see another of those dictionary billboards I will puke. But I think Wisewaif is sort of frusterated with the majority of Utahns that vote like sheep either straight party or Republican because of what Hannity, Limbaugh and O’reilly tell them. In a perfect world Utahns would see what the flag burning amendment is (unecessary), Orin’s interfering with the incarceration of a drug dealing rap producer in Dubai (improper for a U.S. Senetor), and his loyal support of all special interest groups who give him the money (especially his friends in the nutritional suppliment area).
    We can all agree it is one of the toughtest battles in Utah to beat someone so supported by the church, Bush, and the “Stay the course” conservatives. I think that maybe a little more emphasis could have been spent on what Hatch has done up until now. I am not one to tell anyone who to run a campaign, just another voice.
    P.S. Early voting goes until November 3rd, I already voted for Pete, and am going to spend my election day off of work, calling people up until the polls close. Thanks everyone.

  5. Pete,

    I understand where you’re coming from with this ad, but I wonder if it couldn’t be approached differently. I saw it for the first time last night, and frankly it felt like a kick in the teeth. I think the reason it is getting so much attention, is that there are a lot of people out there that want to see you win, that feel betrayed by an ad like that being the capstone of your campaign.

    I agree you need to do something audacious and provocative to get attention, but I think you can do it better than this ad, and the response to it tells you that. Here are some other low budget concepts that will get you a home run. I will shoot and edit any of these:

    The Ashdown Smashdown. Action figure Pete. Has to go up against Hatch-ator who is about to blow up all the computers in the world. Pete uses his transparency ray to reveal the sinister plot. Done all with action figures dangling from strings.

    Talking Heads. Talking head of Hatch ala Conan Obrien. He goes off on bunch of un-intelligable B.S. At the end Pete comes bursting through the screen like a pro-wrestler. “If you want more than words, vote Pete Ashdown.” “more than words” by Extreme plays in the background.

    Bad Senator, Good Senator (Part I) “Orrin Hatch has recorded over 15 inspirational albums (clips of Hatch performing or sitting next to a piano.) He also passed a bill that would give up to 5 years jail time for sharing a single song. Orrin Hatch, good musician, bad senator.”

    Bad Senator, Good Senator (Part II) “Pete Ashdown wants Congress to publish their budgets, and agenda online, so the American people know where there tax dollars are going. He also wrote this jingle (audio clip of radio jingle) Pete Ashdown, good Senator, bad musician.

    Really, any of these could end with you bursting through the screen like Macho Man Randy Savage and it’ll get you attention without hurting you.

    I sincerely want to see you win this race. You’ve fought a hard battle, and I still believe you can win in November. Please reconsider this ad.

    Brandon Dayton

  6. Pete,

    I thought the commercial with your daughter was incredibly cute, and frankly delightful. I wish I could help with money to put it on the air. But then I explored some of the other videos linked from that section of your website, and I had to view “Little Bear goes to Washington” about 3 times in a row. It’s absolutely brilliant. I wish it wasn’t so long, or maybe it could be broken into smaller pieces. It’s frustrating for me that the US Senate candidate I most want to win across the country is fighting the hardest fight. But don’t give up.


  7. I think the cement for Ashdown’s supporters is pretty solidly set by now as is that for Hatch’s. It’s the uninformed thin-set bunch who will see this ad and go, “Babies? Well…maybe!” (and correct me if I’m wrong, but there are plenty of people whose votes are based on something as concrete as an exhortation, no?)

    I say this with a sister just returned from Afghanistan.

    Bring on the adorable babies.

  8. I like that this feel good ad is positive and slings no hash at Hatch. But it is fluffy and i don’t think
    it represents your strengths. You have modern, forward thinking ideas. Some use technology to make
    this country better. You aren’t afraid to dream of big projects that might be out of our immediate scope.
    Instead of abandoning them you want to figure out ways to make them happen. You are running
    against someone who has lost all of this spunk if he ever had it to begin with. Your opponent is so
    entrenched is his own program that dreaming of a better country isn’t on his radar. The best he can say for
    himself is he will hold a very powerful position in the senate. You have more: energy, vision, spunk,
    ability to work with and for others for a brighter, modern, successful future. Cant’ you get some of that
    in an ad?

  9. Pete,

    I think you are doing an excellent job. The fact that you have run a clean campaign on the issues without trying to drag Orrin Hatch through the mud is commendable.

    If I were an ad executive, I would hire Greta quicker than you can say “Ashdown for Senate.”

    Having said that, may I endorse Brandon Dayton’s suggestions. They are clever and effective. I especially like the action figure idea.


  10. Brandon, you are welcome to script and write any kind of commercial you wish. This is a collaborative effort and you don’t need my permission to do it. Maybe what you or someone else will come up with will be better than anything I’ve tried to do. We’re trying to get people aware of the campaign first and foremost.

  11. Pete,

    the commercial was fine. It was different. It didn’t cram a bunch of hypertensive junk and brought real life to your advertising. People chose to be offended or not to be. It’s their choice in the end. But don’t apologize in a way that signals ownership for their decision to be offended by trivial things. People already know what you stand for or can easily find out once they notice you.

    The commercial appeals to family oriented folks. Though others want to see terminator style commercials, others don’t. One can use these other suggestions, but target them through media outlets that appeal to younger audiences, rather than the general public. This particular ad featuring your daughter has alot more broad appeal than some might think. However, you don’t want all your ads to be this type. Depending upon your budget and your arrangements of spots, you can use it so that subsequent ads have more impact.. you know.. the “boring” ones … lol. The fluffy ad will assist any of the more serious ads to be noticed that follow shortly thereafter. So, use them as a 1 2 punch 🙂 Note: if “saturating” a particular program, “fluff” it very sparingly, and let the serious ads be the last ones seen.

    Just an idear. Nothing scientific about it though, just a hunch coming from a former marketing feller. But like you said, no matter what you do, someone will disagree, so target well my friend.

    Mister Ed

  12. Pete,
    Your daughter Greta is ALMOST as cute as my three grandsons. I did not care much for the music alone, but when you put Greta init, it was really cute. Made me feel good. Had no real political message (except the obvious.) No doubt it is fluffly, but a lot of people will remember it because of how cute she is in it. It also suggests the age difference between you and the fossil currently in office.

  13. It was a great ad, Pete. What a candidate can say in a 30 second spot is not enough to judge a candidate on – this gets people’s attention and gives them your website to learn more.

  14. I was surprised by the ad, but I can see that it would appeal to a lot of non-politically oriented people… in other words, a lot of utahns. It doesn’t wear well, and it wouldn’t do for a long exposure. I want more meat, but then I’m glued to political news 24/7 these days.

    The singing commercial is only cute the first time you hear it. However, I think that one of your best assets is your speaking voice. I really hoped for a voice over with various campaign pictures of you meeting utahns. Not very creative, tho, I guess. At least you didn’t put a stinker of an ad out like Matheson did about Medicare Part D.


  15. If all of the polls are correct, the Democrats will whomp up on the Republicans next week, and then having Orrin Hatch as the Senator from Utah will be worth less than spit. Look in the dictionary under “political payback” and there will be a photo of Hatch framed by the outline of The Beehive State.

    Bring Senator Pete Ashdown into the picture, however, and you would see what would arguably be the second most powerful Mormon in U.S. politics. Because of the “Western States” strategy of the Democratic Party, Ashdown would certainly receive some of the best committee assignments of any freshman Senator in history.

    If we want someone to bring a lot of bacon home to Utah in a federal legisalture with a Democratic majority don’t send Orrin Hatch to do our grocery shopping. Send Pete Ashdown.

  16. I’d only been exposed to the radio version until just now. Having seen it, yah… cute as can be! As a radio ad, it came across as empty air time, imo. But NOT harmful and these days, that’s saying something for ad campaigns. I’m sick to death of negative campaigning and I won’t support it. I can more than forgive this ad, it was adorable.

  17. The kids were cute. Really cute. I’ve got 4 of my own, and 2 more part-time kids since my brother was killed in Iraq.

    I feel for Pete Ashdown not being able to garner enough attention to speak or advertise on substantive matters. And it’s a d*mn shame that with what the world is faced with today, that voters elect people based on nothing more than 30 second soundbites. Might as well put cute kids in the ads to remind us of what is really important in life, because the other soundbites I’ve seen from the “serious” politcians talking about the challenges facing us today aren’t much more than hot air and people who see a cup half empty. Pete Ashdown has nothing to apologize for by airing some fluffy kiddy commercial. He deserves attention and scrutiny and a voice. I saw one of your debates Pete and I was impressed with your enthusiasm and your ideas. There’s a couple of question marks for me, but nevertheless, I was impressed.

    This whole voting process, this whole political process has degraded to nothing more than infomercials. I’ve seen this country disintegrate into two polarized camps, so polarized that neither of them have any solutions. While people are dying, while poverty is widespread, while our borders are completely undefended, politicians get up and talk about flag burning. I don’t like flag burning anymore than the next person who loves this country and the people in it. But I’ve never seen anyone die over a burning flag. And a soldier in a foxhole will tell you the last thing he thinks of while being shot at is the flag. When things get sticky, when things get ugly in Washington, flag burning immediately becomes a hot issue. Gay rights? That’s another one I love. Dubai Ports comes up, “hey…lets talk about gay marraige!” A great debate to be sure. But last I checked, it was hostile, hateful people who slipped through our wide open borders that brought the twin towers down…not people of the same sex who do nothing more than love each other that killed 3000 people. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last I heard, it’s hate that kills…not love. And then there’s the “under God” thing. I don’t care if you believe in God or not, the only people threatened by the word “God” are the ones who can’t find enough time in a day to teach their own kids what they believe or don’t believe in. Last I checked, Jesus didn’t win elections and he didn’t go around campaigning at schools every day. As I recall, he went around preaching in the middle of a bunch of people trying to kill him. And somehow he seemed to inspire generations and millions of people to perform acts of human kindness every day. That ought to pretty much cover it if you’re a believer (and personally, truth be known, I myself lean a bit that direction). Conversely, I read a study once where aetheists seem to do pretty well and avoid a few problems in life that terse Christ followers have. I guess leaving “God” out of the equation is better than going around and killing or ranting at gay folks or forcing Christianity on others. I always thought of it as a religion of attraction rather than detraction. If you need to give yourself 100 lashes everyday trying to remind yourself why you’re supposed to be nice to others, you’ve obviously got a few problems.

    My kids will survive if they see some person who thinks torching a flag will release some kind of smoke that will solve the world’s problems. My kids will survive if they see a guy holding another guy’s hand. They’ve seen enough of that already and somehow they still seem to be attracted to the opposite sex. I guess that’s the way they were born. They’ll survive if they have to say, “one nation…indivisible…with liberty and justice for all.” What they won’t survive is a bomb going off from someone who waltzed across a border that politicians didn’t have the common sense to guard after 9/11. My kids won’t survive if they fight abroad following the insane strategy of a President and the Generals he appoints in a political war rather than a strategic war. What they won’t survive is a decaying economy because people in this country are so damned selfish to save a penny that they don’t care if we send our jobs out to China and make someone there work for pennies on the dollar. Does anyone in this country even know how to actually make a TV anymore? They won’t survive going out to compete in the world from a public education system that doesn’t have the guts or the interest to teach them how to actually read “Fun with Dick and Jane” before they graduate from College.

    If this country doesn’t have the time to research the people we elect, if this state is such a damned red state that all they see when they go to the polls is the color red rather than competence, ideas, accountability…if they don’t have the time in a day to look at the voting records of the people they’ve kept in office over and over and over and weigh them with the ideas of people who may have a better way, more enthusiasm, more integrity…then this state is the problem, not the solution. Anyone in this state who casts the vote “republican” without giving anyone else the time of day is someone who votes for the exact same state of affairs we have today. If you can’t think for yourself, of you can’t do a bit of research and look a bit deeper, do everyone else who does a favor and don’t vote. Other candidates in Utah deserve consideration.

    I’m endorsing no-one here…I’m endorsing common sense and personal responsibility for making the world a better place. If ads with little kids offend you, you probably need to go spend some time with your own kids or a few neices, nephews, or grandkids. Or be a kid again yourself. They’re as good as all the other ads out there I’ve seen nowadays.

    Mike Cawley
    Roy, Utah

  18. uhhhm, I probably could have summarized my diatribe in a much shorter way…focus on the most important issues, reasearch the candidates, give them all equal chance. Probably needs to be posted more on the other candidate’s site than here since the challenger is widely unnoticed.

    I’ll see if I can post it over there and see if it gets up as quickly as it got put on this site. Apparently there are no reviewers or censors here and the posts are there for all to see the minute you hit the “enter” button. Weird. Don’t see that very often.

  19. ok, can’t see a blog over at Orrin’s place. No-where to post. He must have too much to lose. Definitely something that belongs in the “minus” column. Pretty much normal with politics I suppose…protect the turf above all. Let’s just keep the status quo…even if it means having everything fall apart.

    Score one for the challenger here…at least me have the hope that he will be different someday….

  20. This comment has nothing to do with the post. But I’m making it here anyway.

    Being a conservative republican (surprise, it’s Utah!), I don’t agree with many of your views. However, Orrin Hatch is off his f@$$#!ing rocker and needs to be knocked off his high horse. I know it’s not as good as coming from someone who totally agrees with you, but you got my vote.

  21. I for one enjoyed the commercial, I was smiling by the end of it. The fact is that people who already will vote for you know what you stand for and those who don’t won’t know what hit them when they see this commercial. She is adorable and it was very clever and with any hope the added publicity will draw people to your website where they will hopefully see the light.

    Thanks Pete

  22. As what has already been said, too many voters especially here in Utah loyally vote down their party lines without hesitation or unbiased research. I vote for a change and it’s been that way all my life, as one party achieves success in one area. The other party reverses the advances once they have control. And if a politician gets into the “Game” with honorable intentions, they usually become tainted with the corruption that surrounds them. Pete gives us something that no politician wants to give; an accountable politician, Imagine a politician that we can count on to do what’s best for his constituents. Not what’s best for his/hers cronies or campaign sponsors. Imagine a political process that doesn’t get bogged down via filler busting. That actually passed bills for the people. We need a change to politics. We need to eliminate the political two party system. It shouldn’t be US vs. THEM, it should be just US. We should want the best person for the job period. We need to limit their terms (no career politicians)and provide free media and resources for campaigns to provide an even playing field without outside influences. If a politician has millions before getting into office, there’s no need for them to collect a salary. We should eliminate the self vote for a raise by our congressmen; let the percentage and right for a raise rest on the voters of their district.
    The People (not only the rich people) have to take back this government and make them work for us all. As we know we are a melting pot of people and ideas. But what makes us so strong is the ability or Freedom to make a change when we know we are going down the wrong path. The time has come for a change or the changes that come in time will not be the changes we want. I vote for Pete, for a step in the right direction.

    As far as the electronic voting computers, there should be a paper trail for accountability and cross checking.
    Also it’s my understanding is that Mr Hatch had came to Utah only to become a Senator(after he failed back east), for the power that comes with it.

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