07/03/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Oregon Republican Tries To Hitch A Ride On Obama's Coattails

If you cast your mind back to the May special election held in Mississippi between Democrat Travis Childers and Republican Greg Davis, the GOP thought the best way to maintain their hold on that traditionally ruby-red district was to run advertisements linking Childers with Barack Obama. Famously, the effort failed. Perhaps that's why Oregon Senator Gordon Smith is embracing a fully different tactic: running ads that compare himself to the Democratic presidential nominee.

Over at Time's "The Page," Mark Halperin is selling this item as something awkward that Obama has had to "distance" himself from, asserting that Smith was "aligning himself with Obama," making things uncomfortable for the Democratic challenger, Jeff Merkley. But if you watch the ad, you'll see it's really not that complicated. The ad merely notes that Obama praised Smith's leadership on a single issue, and goes on to play up Smith's willingness to "work together across party lines." There's no mention of an endorsement in either direction, so while Bill Burton issued a statement attesting to Obama's support for Merkley, it's hardly an example of Obama frosting a key supporter.

Still, it's interesting to see the recognition on Smith's part that Obama has proven to be a popular enough figure in his home state that it's worth it to hitch his wagon to the Democrat's star. Now, if Gordon Smith could somehow win himself the support of powerhouse indie-rockers The Decemberists, he'd really be sitting pretty.