Candidates for Louisiana Governor spar over campaign’s use of Dodge ad

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA) – A Republican campaign for Louisiana governor is defending its use of a 2013 Super Bowl commercial, amid plagiarism claims by the Democratic incumbent’s re-election squad.

Aides for U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s gubernatorial bid said a Facebook clip they posted last week constitutes fair use protected by the First Amendment. The two-minute campaign video mirrors a two-minute Dodge Ram truck advertisement showing farms, farmers and farm animals over audio of a 1978 speech by late conservative radio personality Paul Harvey.

“On the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker,’” Harvey said in the commercial. “So, God made a farmer.”

The only difference between the two videos is the logo. The Abraham advertisement features a watermark on the bottom; in its final seconds, a similar campaign image adorns the entire screen, in place of the Dodge Ram emblem.

Abraham’s campaign stresses that the 2013 Dodge commercial captures the congressman’s support for Louisiana farming.

“Paul Harvey said it best, and so truthfully,” said Lionel Rainey, a senior campaign strategist for the Republican. “We looked at it and said, ‘What a perfect explanation for why a farmer is important.’”

Edwards campaign aides disagree with the Abraham team’s fair use claim.

“Rep. Abraham has been recycling [former governor] Bobby Jindal’s policies,” said Eric Holl, a spokesman for the Democratic governor’s re-election committee. “Now he’s recycling famous commercials.”

“What a strange thing for the governor to lose his mind over,” Rainey said. “I mean, they’re going nuts. I think that shows you where they are in this campaign mentally.”

Abraham’s Facebook campaign video has roughly 1,000 likes, as of Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler, which makes Ram trucks, said it did not give Abraham permission to use the Super Bowl commercial — and that the company does not endorse political candidates.

The automaker has not told the Abraham campaign to take down its video, though Rainey told Tuesday that he would remove the post under such a request.

Recent polls place Edwards and Abraham as the two most popular contenders in the 2019 governor’s race. Voters will pick a candidate in an Oct. 12 runoff. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent, the top two vote-getters will face off Nov. 16.

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