[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/08/art.giannouliasad.0908.youtube.jpg caption =" Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias showcases his friendship with President Obama in a new ad."](CNN) - As more and more congressional Democrats avoid tying themselves to President Obama, Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is painting himself as a friend of the president, and showcasing his ties to him in a new ad.
"Alexi's my friend," Obama says in the 30-second spot. "I know his character. You can trust him. You can count on him."
The commercial uses clips of Obama speaking at a fundraiser for Giannoulias on August 5, when the president traveled to Illinois to campaign for the state treasurer. Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and Obama 2008 campaign manager and Democratic strategist David Plouffe have also campaigned for Giannoulias.
Giannoulias is looking to fill the Senate seat once held by Obama and now held by Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed to fill the seat after Obama was elected and is not running for re-election.
Giannoulias' campaign said the ad would begin airing statewide on Thursday.
The race is dead even, according to a Chicago Tribune/WGN poll conducted August 28 to September 1. Both Giannoulias and his opponent, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, have the support of 34 percent of registered voters. A whopping 22 percent remain undecided.
Updated 1:15 p.m.:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is slamming the new commercial.
"How are Illinois voters supposed to 'trust' Giannoulias with their pocketbooks after he squandered millions of taxpayer dollars set aside for the state's college fund?" asks NRSC Press Secretary Amber Marchand. "How does the President propose that Illinois voters 'count on' Giannoulias after he drove his own family's business into the ground, forcing the government to pay for his risky loans and reckless behavior?"