WASHINGTON (CNN) – Buttressed by a new poll that shows the Virginia governor's race tightening, Democrat Creigh Deeds launched a pair of tough new ads Monday that once again call attention to Republican Bob McDonnell's controversial master's thesis.
Both of the 30-second ads are running across the commonwealth and in northern Virginia, where Deeds has jumped to a 17-point lead over McDonnell among likely voters, according to a Washington Post poll released on Sunday.
One month ago, before McDonnell's writings about working women and homosexuality were revealed, the two men were running about even in northern Virginia, the most densely-populated region of the state. Much of that turnaround can be attributed to independent women, who are now split between Deeds and McDonnell after favoring McDonnell by nearly 30 points in August.
One of the ads - entitled "Why did you?" - features several women speaking into the camera as they tick through elements of McDonnell's thesis and voting record on abortion. "Mr. McDonnell, we've read your words," the women say. "We've checked your record. Why did you vote that way?
Another ad, called "Conversation," flashes a series of questions and answers about McDonnell's thesis onto the screen. "How old was he when he wrote it?" a voice asks. The answer: "McDonnell was thirty-four, married, and attending Pat Robertson's Law School."
Deeds campaign adviser Mo Elleithee told reporters Monday that there is "significant movement" in polls on the thesis issue. According to the Washington Post poll, 54 percent of voters had heard nothing or very little about the thesis, leaving a door open for the Deeds campaign to keep pushing the topic.
"Voters are raising qestions and we're hoping to provide some of those answers," Deeds media adviser David Dixon said of the new ads.
The McDonnell campaign responded that Deeds is spending his time on "vicious and false social attacks" instead of addressing the economic issues facing Virginia.
McDonnell spokesman Crystal Cameron said the Democrat "has no plan for transportation, supports a cap and trade scheme that will kill Virginia jobs, bragged about being the biggest spender in Richmond, and has said he will be a partner for big labor after accepting millions in campaign contributions."
The campaign also launched a third positive ad, featuring Deeds driving his car through a pastoral section of rural Virginia and talking about how much he loves his state.