A new ad in the campaign for governor uses a well-known country song to skewer current Governor Culver Culver who, in turn, accuses rival Terry Branstad of distortion.  

The Branstad ad is a parody of the 1961 Jimmy Dean classic, “Big Bad John.”  A narrator with a deep voice says in Iowa, “we call our governor Chet” and what we’ve got is it “big debt.” 

That “big debt” mantra is a hit at Culver’s I-JOBS program.  Culver is hitting back.

“I think it’s an effort from the Branstad campaign to mislead people,” Culver told reporters Tuesday.

Branstad’s campaign manager says Culver has authorized an “ever-expanding” debt load, and Branstad will put the state on a “pay-as-you-go” plan if he’s reelected to a fifth term. Last year Culver authorized borrowing over a billion dollars for a series of infrastructure projects, a program he dubbed “I-JOBS.” Culver says Branstad racked up much more debt during his 16-year run as governor.

“It’s interesting that while (Branstad’s) against a billion dollars to put people to work…he was for borrowing $4.3 billion during his tenure as governor,” Culver says. “So you know I’m anxious for the voters to get the facts, to compare the records and once they do that, I think the choice will be clear.”

Branstad’s 1994 reelection campaign was capped by a TV commercial in which a talking cow quipped: “Don’t gamble with Campbell,” a rhyme aimed at Branstad opponent Bonnie Campbell. Culver hints his own 2010 campaign will run an ad with a rhyme directed at Branstad.

“The bottom line is it would be very scary to elect Terry Branstad on November 2,” Culver says.  “That’s the kind of fun we’re going to have as we come up to Halloween.”  Halloween is on the Sunday before Election Day.

In 2009, New Jersey’s gubernatorial campaign was capped by an ad which featured unflattering video of the overweight candidate getting out of a vehicle in slow motion, with a narrator saying the candidate “threw his weight around” to avoid traffic tickets. Branstad’s ad, which runs for 30 seconds, features four different photos of Culver, but Culver doesn’t consider the “Big Bad Debt” ad an attack on his “girth.”

“You know, my wife’s always called me, ‘The Big Lug,’ and that’s much more accurate,” Culver told reporters. 

Culver ran a campaign ad in 2006 which featured his wife, Mari, calling her husband a “big lug.”