By Shane Goldmacher // October 31, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.
Votes remain to be cast but it is not too early to declare the surprise Republican star of the 2012 election: mommy (and sometimes daddy).
Republican candidates and congressmen across the country have turned to their parents in political ads this cycle to bolster their credentials, particularly on the hot-button issue of Medicare.
About a dozen House GOP candidates and at least six Republican candidates for Senate have aired ads featuring their moms, dads, mother-in-laws and grandmas to vouch for their good heart and swell intentions.
"I'm Bob Dold's mom. I don't support anyone unless they protect Social Security and Medicare," says the mother of freshman Illinois Republican Rep. Bob Dold in one of his ads. "I love you, mom," Dold replies, as they sit at the kitchen table.
If it seems obvious that mothers would support their children's political ambitions, GOP political strategists believe otherwise. They've found that endorsements from mom personalize a candidate and are best to brush away the barrage of Democratic charges that the GOP wants to "end Medicare as we know it."
It's one of the reasons Paul Ryan joined his mom on the campaign trail shortly after he was named Mitt Romney's running mate.
The GOP obsession with featuring mom in campaign ads dates, most notably, to Rep. Mark Amodei's special election run Nevada in 2011, in which the Republican candidate's mom was used to rebut charges that he wanted to end Medicare. "That's not true," she said. Amodei won and Republicans have turned to mom ever since.
Given their newfound prominence, we thought we'd compile the moms, dads, grandmas, mother-in-laws that have appeared in congressional ads this year in one place.
Check them out after the jump.
Pennsylvania Senate nominee and Republican businessman Tom Smith featured his mom in an October ad, though he does most of the talking. Like many of the ads, it features Smith and his mom sitting at a kitchen table. "My own mother receives those benefits," Smith says of Social Security and Medicare. "And this son would never jeopardize that."
In Indiana, Republican Senate nominee Richard Mourdock turned to his dad. "Such garbage on television today. That Joe Donnelly will say anything," his dad says of Mourdock's Democratic opponent.
In Florida, GOP Senate nominee Connie Mack, whose father served in the U.S. Senate, features both his mom and dad in an ad. "My son Connie will be a great senator -- just like his dad," she says.
In North Dakota, GOP Rep. Rick Berg's mom was so effective a spokesperson that the Republican Senate nominee has featured her in two ads. "Rick would never do anything to harm Social Security or Medicare," Francie Berg says in one of the spots.
And in neighboring Montana's Senate race, GOP Rep. Dennis Rehberg featured his mom, as well, but on a different topic -- his devotion to supporting those fighting cancer.
On Tuesday, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada announced a new ad featuring B-roll of his mom and dad and he speaks about all he's learned from them, but his parents don't make an on-camera appearance.
Republican New York House candidate Matt Doheny uses his mom speaking with a group of seniors.
Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., has his mom, a lifelong Democrat, say in an ad that, "Sean really had to earn my vote."
Here is the Bob Dold ad referenced above:
An ad for Rep. Scott Riggell, R-Va., features his parents sitting on a porch.
New York GOP Rep. Chris Gibson has his mom say that, "He means what he says" in a spot about Medicare.
Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind, went with mother-in-law, who he brings a soda in the ad. "You can trust Larry to protect Medicare. I should know. I trusted him with my daughter," she says.
South Dakota Republican Rep. Kristi Noem has her grandma talk over her in one ad.
North Carolina GOP House candidate David Rouzer also featured his grandma in an ad. "You deserve to know the truth about David Rouzer," she says.
Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman calls his mom his "number one adviser on Medicare" in one ad.
Indiana Republican House candidate Jackie Walorski also used the mom-at-kitchen-table ad format, though her mom never speaks in the spot.
The parents of Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck don't appear in this ad -- but their pictures do. Heck, a physician, recounts how his dad survived a heart attack with the help of Medicare. "You can count on me to protect Medicare. For my parents, for my patients, for all Americans," he says.
Utah Rep. Jim Matheson is one of the few Democrats to rip a page from the GOP 2012 playbook. He represents one of the most conservative districts of any Democrat in the country. He ran an ad this year featuring his mother comparing him to his father, a former Utah governor. "Just like his dad, Jim always puts the people of Utah first," she says.
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