Why are the presidential candidates spending so much time to raise so much money? To buy TV ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: Karl Rove's American Crossroads translates President Obama's speech, and Sen. Scott Brown tries to soften the hearts of the ladies.

The Ad: American Crossroads, "Wah Wahhh"

The Issues: Obama's big campaign speech in Ohio Thursday.

The Message: Obama just makes excuses for the weak economy instead of fixing it. The ad takes a clip of Obama's speech and then offers a "translation," so like, when Obama says "From 2001 to 2008," the translation is "Blame Bush." Or when Obama says, "the wealthiest Americans… contribute their fair share…" the translation is "class warfare." 

Who'll See It: This is a web-only video, but it seems likely to get around, because it's way more interesting than your usual ad.

Who It's For: The youth.

What Everyone Else Thinks: The financial crisis really did start in 2008, when Bush was in office.

The Effect: The argument isn't original, but the presentation is great. In January, Slate's John Dickerson wondered why political people didn't tell more jokes these days. Well, here they are. A


 

The Ad: Scott Brown, "Happy Father's Day"

The Issues: Isn't Sen. Scott Brown a nice guy?

The Message: Brown's daughters and wife talk (without a script) about how they gave their dad coupons for presents, and every once in a while he still tries to cash them in. "Dad is an amazing guy and an amazing father and he's been there for us no matter what."

Who'll See It: It's a web-only video, so only those who are looking for it.

Who It's For: The ladies.  Brown is running against Elizabeth Warren, a female. Republicans usually face a gender gap, and a late May poll by Western New England University showed that while 54 percent of Massachusetts voters had a favorable view of Brown, only 46 percent of women did. And 59 percent of men approved of the job the senator was doing, while just 44 percent of women did. The ad is supposed to "humanize" Brown, Politico's James Hohmann says.

What Everyone Else Thinks: What his family thinks of him is only interesting if they don't like him.

The Effect: It's good the campaign let Brown's family talk like normal people, instead of speaking awkwardly from a script. But the ad is too long and too much about cookies. B-