May 3, 2016 6:21 PM

Steinhauser: Hassan shares her family's personal challenges in her first Senate campaign commercial

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – The challenges faced by Gov. Maggie Hassan’s son Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy, take center stage in the first campaign commercial of her Democratic challenge against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

“All families have challenges, what’s really important is that they also have community. Our son Ben was born with cerebral palsy. And we were really worried if he’d fit in. Twenty or thirty years earlier we would’ve been pressured to put him in an institution,” Hassan shares in the 60-second spot.

“It was Ben’s first day of school, and I had a lot of anxiety. Would he find friends? Would they understand how smart he is? Would he be fully included?” Hassan continues. “When the school bus pulled in and the wheelchair lift came down and we wheeled Ben on the bus and off he went to his first day, and I found myself thinking as the bus pulled out, about all the families that came before the Hassan family.”

Hassan goes on to relate why she got into politics, saying that “teachers and the champions for kids like Ben and families like ours who made his inclusion possible. That’s one of the reasons I got involved in public service. Because it made it so clear to me how much you can accomplish when you work together.”

It’s notable that nowhere in the commercial does Hassan mention which office she’s running for or mention that she’s a Democrat.

The Hassan campaign says it’s spending six-figures to run the ad on television in New Hampshire, including on WBIN-TV, the home of NH1 News.

Ayotte’s aired only one TV commercial so far in her re-election campaign, and it also focused on one of her children. The spot, which ran in March, opened with Ayotte playing basketball with her daughter Kate, who did nearly all the speaking in the ad.

The showdown between Ayotte and Hassan is one of the most high profile, expensive and negative Senate races in the country this year. While each campaign has now run one commercial, third party groups on both sides of the battle have spent big bucks to flood New Hampshire airwaves with ads in the race.

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