The gubernatorial campaign for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on Thursday released a new television ad that will run throughout the state, highlighting the six-term congressman’s work in requiring the U.S. military to purchase athletic footwear that is made in the U.S.
The 30-second spot opens with an American flag rippling in the breeze in front of what appears to be Bug Light, a small South Portland lighthouse. Over soft acoustic music, Raye Wentworth, who is the factory manager for New Balance but is only identified as “Norridgewock plant manager,” speakers to someone who is off camera. The commercial uses images of factory workers making shoes and talking to the candidate, who is wearing safety glasses and ear plugs.
“One of the things that you would think is made here in America would be our military uniforms,” she says. “But our tax dollars have been paying for shoes made in foreign countries. Mike Michaud is working across party lines to require that the military buys shoes that are made here in America.”
As that last line is delivered, a generic-looking newspaper article from the State News Services, dated June 14, 2013, is superimposed over images of factory workers with the headline: “House passes Michaud amendment requiring 100% Made-in-USA uniforms.”
New Balance, which makes shoes in Maine, could benefit from the new policy, creating hundreds of new jobs, but the company’s name does not appear in the ad.
The ad highlights Michaud’s long-time advocacy to get the U.S. military to comply with the Berry Amendment, which requires uniforms to be made in the U.S. Up until recently, soldiers received a stipend to buy athletic footwear, which in many cases was made in a foreign country. Michaud has sent New Balance sneakers to the president and defense secretary, and helped pass an amendment to the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization bill to bring the military into compliance.
The ad also seeks to blunt a criticism repeatedly leveled by Maine Republicans and independent Eliot Cutler – that Michaud is a back-bencher in Congress, who hasn’t gotten anything done. This ad portrays Michaud, a former mill worker who opposes free trade agreements that don’t protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, as the leader of an initiative that could create jobs in Maine. It also touts the quality of U.S. producers.