San Diego Union Tribune
WASHINGTON – Rep. Christopher Shays, who co-chairs Republican John McCain's campaign in Connecticut, is speaking favorably about McCain's Democratic rival Barack Obama in a new TV ad for Shays' own tough re-election fight.
Shays is airing a TV ad that opens with a black-and-white shot of Obama followed by a similar image of McCain.“The hopefulness of Obama, the straight talk of McCain,” an announcer says. “It's what Christopher Shays has always stood for. He goes where the truth takes him.”
Shays represents a district anchored by Greenwich and other wealthy suburbs outside New York.
The congressman who stresses his independent ways teamed up with McCain on campaign finance legislation in 2002. Two years ago, McCain campaigned in Connecticut for Shays.
Shays downplays his GOP ties in the commercial that began airing this week. Shays was the only House Republican from New England to keep his seat as Democrats swept to power in fall 2006.
“In a sea of partisanship, Shays is different,” the announcer says. “It's not what is Republican or Democrat, it's what's right for America.”
Shays' ad is not the first time this election cycle that a Republican congressional candidate has invoked Obama ties. GOP Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon earlier this year aligned himself with Obama in an ad that cited legislation they worked on to improve automobile fuel efficiency standards.
This fall, Shays is expected to face a hard battle against Democrat Jim Himes, a former banker who is vice president of an affordable housing operation.
Obama is backing Himes.
“Barack Obama has strong, positive vision for America and a long record of bipartisan accomplishment, and we are pleased that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in the House,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “However, in this race, the good people of Connecticut should know that Barack Obama supports Jim Himes and believes Himes is the candidate who will bring the change American families need to Washington.”
Shays' support for the Iraq war nearly cost him re-election two years ago in a southwestern Connecticut district where anti-war sentiment runs strong. Initially one of Congress' strongest war backers, Shays said during his 2006 race that U.S. policies weren't working. President Bush lost the district in 2004.
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