When life hands a candidate lemons…

WHEN LIFE HANDS A CANDIDATE LEMONS…. In Illinois, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is the Democratic nominee for Senate, hoping to hold onto the seat held until 2008 by Barack Obama. That task became a little more difficult on Friday when federal regulators shut down a bank owned and operated by Giannoulias’ family — a bank Alexi Giannoulias used to help run.

Michael Scherer put it this way: “The Illinois Senate race is playing out like an academic case study in crises management. Imagine this: Your client, a former chief loan officer for a local bank, is a Democrat heading into a Republican election year, in a state long stained by political corruption. Amid enormous public outrage over the damage wrought by bank excess, your client’s bank is seized by the Feds for having overextended itself in the mortgage market. Now figure out how to win the race.”

It’s a challenge, to be sure, but I have to admit, this ad is actually pretty good. Why run from a problem when a campaign can try to turn it around, and make it a positive?

In this minute-long spot, Giannoulias briefly mentions he left the bank four years ago (read: its recent problems aren’t his fault), and it was fine (read: he did a good job). But the economy collapsed (read: not Giannoulias’ fault), and the family bank, like a lot of small businesses, couldn’t survive (read: Giannoulias’ family is facing the same problems lots of families are forced to endure).

And if you want to help get things back on track, the ad argues, don’t go with Rep. Mark Kirk (R) — seen here, arm in arm with George W. Bush — who didn’t even vote to extend unemployment benefits to those struggling in the recession.

“People want someone who’s gonna fight for ’em,” Giannoulias says in the spot. “Someone who’s been through tough times, someone who’s seen, looked at those problems in the face and continues to move and continues to fight and to struggle for people, and that’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate.”

Time will tell if this is effective, but it’s a rather classic example of making lemonade out of lemons. Who would have thought Giannoulias would make an ad embracing the failure of his family’s bank?