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Republicans hit South Dakota airwaves with first of $1 million ad campaign

updated 5:58 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
  • The GOP launched its first of $1 million in TV ad days after Democrats announced a similar buy.
  • The spot ties the leading independent and Democratic candidates to each other.
  • The DSCC's $1 million investment will go to attacking GOP hopeful Mike Rounds.

Washington (CNN) -- The National Republican Senatorial Committee pushed its first TV spot in a $1 million ad campaign in South Dakota to attack the Republican nominee's top two opponents in what has become a competitive three-way race for the seat.

The 30-second spot, which hit South Dakota airwaves Tuesday, links Democratic opponent Rick Weiland and Republican-turned-Independent former Sen. Larry Pressler as holding the same positions on gun laws, energy and Obamacare and comes less than a week after Democrats announced their own $1 million campaign to attack Republican nominee former Gov. Mike Rounds.

South Dakota race has songs and poetry

Republicans also deployed two political operatives to South Dakota to boost Rounds' campaign operation.

The ad features two balloons with Rounds' opponents names, pointing out that "Rick Weiland and Larry Pressler have a lot in common." By the end of the ad, both balloons have deflated because "when it comes to looking out for South Dakota, they both fall flat."

"Weiland supports Obamacare, just like Pressler," the ad claims, adding that Rounds' Democratic and Independent opponents also favor "stricter gun laws" and "want you to pay more for your energy."

For now, Rounds still leads the four-man pack, which also includes Independent Gordon Howie, a social conservative running to Rounds' right who barely registers in the polls.

Country-singing Senate hopeful 'rocks' South Dakota race

A SurveyUSA poll released last week showed the race is a three-way split with Pressler trailing the Republican nominee by just three points, with Weiland another four points behind the independent.

Until Pressler gained traction, Rounds was considered a shoe-in for the Senate seat in what is traditionally a red state.

By taking on both candidates, the Republican Senatorial campaign arm is gearing up to deflect Democratic ads against Rounds, which could be a boon for either Pressler or Rounds.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's investment in attack ads, rather than pro-Weiland ad buys, suggests Democrats are confident a win from either candidate will be a gain toward maintaining a blue Senate.

Pressler hasn't said who he would caucus with if elected back into the Senate -- after a nearly 20-year hiatus -- but has been open and unabashed about his support for President Barack Obama, first endorsing Obama in his 2008 run.

It wouldn't be the first time this year Democrats have pinned their hopes on an independent candidate polling better than his Democratic counterpart after the Democratic nominee dropped out in the Kansas Senate race in hopes of bolstering businessman Greg Orman's campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

But some also suggest that the DSCC, which has a bigger war chest than their Republican counterparts, could be trying to thin the NRSC's resources in a state where they likely would not have otherwise pumped cash.

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