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Who Needs South Dakota? Rounds Video All Stock Pix

Marion Michael Rounds's new campaign video reeks of inauthenticity:

The fake smile, the fake delivery, the fake tone polished past the point of real connection to your audience...

...and the series of stock photos that shout, "I'm too busy to show real South Dakotans at work and play, so I'll just let my media guys assemble a mild multicultural montage of soothing stock images to keep people from thinking about the crony capitalist predations that I'll vote for once they elect me." An eager reader notices that every still in this clip is a stock photo:

Mike Rounds is basically waving at us the photos you find in picture frames at Walmart and Snidely Whiplash-purring, "Vote for me!" Rounds couldn't have offered us a better summary of his campaign.


  1. Nick Nemec 2014.03.28

    You would think $9 million could buy something better. Maybe they figure if they run it early and often it doesn't have to be good.

  2. John Tsitrian 2014.03.28


  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.28

    If President Obama tilted his head upward and smiled like Rounds does here, they'd call him smug and arrogant.

  4. Nick Nemec 2014.03.28

    President Obama isn't an insurance salesman.

  5. rick 2014.03.28

    Rounds comes off like a cold fish on this. Horrible work, but typical synthetic insurance salesman pitch. And where did they film it? Last time I looked out my window, there was snow and bare trees everywhere.

    He should get his money back on this one.

  6. Jerry 2014.03.28

    I hope that South Dakota wakes and sees this smug snake oil salesman for that. We are now getting the news that President Obama and Mr. Putin are putting the diplomatic gloves on to solve the dilemma in Crimea. Republicans were wetting their pants and their lips hoping that we could have more cold war to punish Mr. Putin and the rest of the Russians for ever trying to work with President Obama on Syria and Iran for a couple of issues.

    Rounds would fit right in with McCain and the rest of the fire breathers that have money for nukes but no money to keep up the United States infrastructure. That is where the real investments should be and from what we have seen of Rounds, he is clueless on business with only the knowledge of red ink. Unless it is corrupted, then he is damn good at that, keeps the vig and lets the others take the fall. Hello EB-5, thanks for the millions!

  7. Winston 2014.03.28

    "And where did they film it?"…. How's the weather in China this year?…. No wait a moment, isn't that the city park near the "Go Go Bar" in Makati?….

  8. Jenny 2014.03.28

    "If America follows So Dakota's lead" God I hope not, the state comes in last in everything. What national study showed SD with a high quality of life? SD has the highest percentage of people in credit card debt and the highest percentage of working moms, and most people working multiple jobs. Let the good times roll in SD!

  9. Jenny 2014.03.28

    Mike Rounds probably pays his insurance agents $10-12/hr with a measly pay increase annually if sales are good. No dental insurance I'm sure, and inflated health premiums.
    Yep, that's just an outstanding quality of life in SD.
    'It's good to be Mike! My dad said I could be go to Washington!'
    Mike will fit right in with the sleazy lobbyists creeping all around Congress.

  10. Roger Cornelius 2014.03.28

    I kept expecting a clip from Leave It To Beaver.

  11. G-Man 2014.03.28

    I'm going to relay something that I witnessed 11 years ago. I had just moved back to South Dakota the previous year and had enlisted in the National Guard. It was 2003 and Mike Rounds had just started his first term as governor. Rounds had come to speak to our unit at Camp Rapid. At that time I had supported Rounds and liked him. After he shook all of our hands and left the drill floor, I had turned to ask a fellow Soldier what he thought of the man I was impressed with. The Soldier told me that he thought his hand shake was "weak" and that he did not trust the man. Eleven years later, I've come to find out that this Soldier was excellent at reading people. It's too bad I couldn't have figured that out then.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2014.03.28

    Deb, that was priceless, perfect timing!!

  13. Jenny 2014.03.28

    G-man, never trust an insurance salesman.

  14. mike from iowa 2014.03.29

    Must be contagious with wingnuts. Carpetbagger Dan Sullivan-running for Sinator in Alaska(he is an Ohio resident(he is a resident of Ohio whose main living space is in DC) buys stock photos from New Zealand.

  15. Rorschach 2014.03.29

    Where was it filmed? Could have been anywhere - even in SD. Rounds is not really in a park but standing in front of a green screen.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.29

    R, you read my mind! Anyone recognize that city park?

  17. Lynn G. 2014.03.29

    I don't recognize that park though I wouldn't be surprised that the background footage has been used for other political adds across the country.

    Besides EB-5 it would be nice to see just who has been supporting Rounds in contributions with an emphasis on out of state organizations and corporations.

    Rounds is the clear front-runner with a huge war chest and it would be nice to find a variety of vulnerabilities. Someone posted that Bosworth although entertaining and has serious baggage can really serve as a distraction to keep the focus away from the Rounds campaign vulnerabilities and really it makes perfect sense.

  18. Megan Konz 2014.03.29

    I'm pretty sure that it is Sioux Falls' McKennan Park. The footage is shot facing South.

  19. Wayne 2014.03.29

    Snidely Whiplash-purring, "Vote for me!"

    Perfect. Still laughing!

  20. Darrell Reifenrath 2014.03.29

    Such an insurance salesman pitch. And like an insurance salesman, long on promises but short on delivery.

  21. Rorschach 2014.03.29

    Nope, Megan. That's not McKennan Park.

  22. PrairieLady - Gayle 2014.03.29

    Debbie's video is missing one thing...a puppy.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.29

    (Mr. Reifenrath! Good to hear from you!)

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.29

    "Look at all these attractive people"—That video is right on, Deb. We must all be the antidote to marketing.

    We have a dispute on the park location! Megan, what makes you think that's McKennan Park? R, what makes you think not?

  25. Megan Konz 2014.03.29

    Rorschach- What makes you say that? The more I watch it, the more certain I am that it is. Rounds is standing in the sand pit that my son builds his castles in on a near daily basis in the summer.

  26. Rorschach 2014.03.29

    Maybe I will take my kids there today and take another look.

  27. rick 2014.03.29

    Check out the voice. It's deeper and fuller than his real speaking voice. Obviously enhanced. Wadhams must've injected the boy with steroids.

    The lighting on his head and the right side looks like real sunlight, not studio lighting. It may be fake background but I don't think so. Looks like it was shot in August or early September, months before his pal Richard Benda was killed and the mess from his Governor's Office of Economic Development and the fraud started dripping into public view.

  28. Disgusted Dakotan 2014.03.29

    "Follows SD's Lead...balanced budget?" Did he forget that he poured millions of our tax dollars into failed crony-capitalism projects with the Communist Chinese, not education & infrastructure? So much so that he ran deficits that accumulated to the tune of $127 Million that was again taken out on education in 2011?

    Isn't that the problem we have in DC now? Deficit spending & crony-capitalism projects for the special interests that buy and pay for these career politicians?

    You thought his administration was corrupt? Lord help us if the Rounds Hall political machine makes it to DC.

  29. owen reitzel 2014.03.29

    just more proof to vote for Rick Weiland and stay away from Republicans

  30. Megan Konz 2014.03.29

    I think it is McKennan park because of the location of the two sets of swingsets. The "big kid swings" are in the foreground to our right, and the "little kid swings" are in the middle ground to the left. Behind the two swingsets is a play system with green metal, grey plastic and in a castle theme. The slides the children are going down at the slides that are located on the southwest side of the play system. They are tan. You can see those tan slides in this picture:

  31. Jenny 2014.03.29

    But you never hear about Weiland, or how he's doing, Owen. He needs to get his campaign riled up with more excitement. Think Paul Wellstone and his green bus touring all over MN and rallying everyone up. Paul Wellstone was able to win with less money poured into it. It was a grassroots campaign with lots of young people rallying around a beloved college professor. It helps to have a charismatic, caring personality also.
    Weiland needs more of all that to win.

  32. owen reitzel 2014.03.29

    I think Weiland could do more but right now the Republicans have center stage for the Senate Jenny. Even that is weak with nobody in the main stream press asking Rounds the tough questions.
    Loved Paul Wellstone but the advantage he has that Weiland doesn't is that Minnesota is a lot more progressive state. I think even Wellstone would struggle here.
    But Weiland is doing it right and going out and meeting the people of South Dakota.

  33. Rorschach 2014.03.29

    This may have been at McKennan Park.

    Rick Weiland's campaign ought to remake this commercial using an actor reading the exact same text with the same phony and patronizing lilt in his voice. Rick could break into the commercial and cut off the actor and start giving some statistics of his own about South Dakota. "OUR reality here in South Dakota isn't a bunch of out-of-state photos purchased from an advertising agency. South Dakota has 5 of the 10 poorest counties in America. And number 11 too. We have the lowest paid teachers in America, and our college graduates carry some of the highest student loans. Many of them leave the state for a good job. South Dakota has 48,000 citizens without health insurance who are just one illness away from financial disaster." Rick looks at the Rounds actor and says, "As governor you added 2,000 state employees and ran the state budget off a cliff. President Obama bailed you out with stimulus funds." I'm Rick Weiland, and I approve this message because career politicians aren't going to tell you the truth about their own dismal records, or solve America's problems."

  34. Jim 2014.03.29

    Rounds fatigue. Caused by 12 years Smiling Mike and his people telling us how peachy he is.

  35. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.29

    I like your ad Rorschach.

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.29

    Excellent text, R! Forward that idea to Team Weiland!

  37. Douglas Wiken 2014.03.30

    Rounds ads are all about the big type that giveth and the buried Rounds small type taketh away from most of us.

  38. mikeyc, that's me! 2014.03.30

    Remember Dudley Dogoods story about falling off a turnip
    truck, and no money for appliances? Apparently somebody
    believes these cheesy ads. Sigh...

  39. Dave 2014.03.30

    Whadyknow ... the ad has been taken down from YouTube ... probably never to be seen again. No wonder he has to raise $9 million ... producing those ads aren't cheap, finding the proper message (something the Rounds campaign is apparently still struggling to do) means throwing away lots of time, effort and money until you get it right ... if ever.

  40. Roger Cornelius 2014.03.30


    Do you know why they were taken down and does Youtube charge for running political ads?

  41. rick 2014.03.30

    Rounds sucks up to the French? Oui! The Rounds ad is a fraud, according to Roll Call.

    "At least one was definitely not photographed in South Dakota. The 'woman at the meeting' photo was taken at the Getty Images office in Paris, the England-based photographer who shot it confirmed in an email to CQ-Roll Call.gain."

    McKennan Park? More like Champs-Élysées. And to think the redneck Tea Party types wanted to rename French fries in the Senate cafeteria to "Freedom Fries."

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.31

    Roger, as far as I know, YouTube does not charge for posting a video. But removed? That's a darn shame. The even greater shame is that Mike just threw away big money on an embarrassing ad. What's he paying Dick Wadhams and all those expert consultants for, anyway? He could get better marketing advice from this comment section!

  43. mike from iowa 2014.03.31

    @ Rick-

    The name was changed to freedom fries in 2003 by a,you guessed it,wingnut as a slap to the French "Surrender Monkeys" as our Frnech allies have been referred to. A little history lesson for wingnuts,if not for some timely help from the "Surrender Monkeys" during the Revolutionary War,we as Americans would be speaking an entirely snobbish sounding English as a first language.

  44. Ryan Gaddy 2014.04.01

    Rounds is Mr Plastic. . . WE DO AGREE ON SOMETHING!! ;)

  45. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.04.01

    Exactly, Ryan: his video and his use of generic, non-SD photos (when there are tons of SD photos around, and when he's had years of politicking to round up good SD photos) show a complete failure of campaign symbolism. And in advertising, that matters.

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