THE CAMPAIGN TO DEFINE BOEHNER GETS UNDERWAY…. Republicans invested considerable time and energy into characterizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as some kind of awful, controversial figure to be avoided at all costs. As the campaign season has heated up, this has led to a variety of ads targeting Democrats over how often they’ve voted with the House Speaker.

The push has been at least marginally successful. While plenty of Americans have no idea who Pelosi is, there’s plenty of recent polling showing the number of Pelosi critics outnumbering her supporters. Some nervous Democrats, in turn, have distanced themselves from the House leader.

With House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) already measuring the drapes in the Speaker’s office, Democrats believe they’re in a position to define the Ohio Republican with a campaign similar to the one used against Pelosi.

With this in mind, the Democratic National Committee has unveiled this new ad, which I’ve been told will start airing on cable news networks today.

The point is hardly subtle — Boehner has a plan for the economy, but it’s awful. As the ad explains, he’s rejected jobs for teachers, cops, and firefighters, but fought for “tax cuts for businesses … that shift jobs and profits overseas, saving multinational corporations $10 billion.”

The ad closes, “So to China and India and Mexico, Boehner has a message: ‘you’re welcome.’”

In a press release this morning, the DNC called Boehner “Job Hating John.”

It’s obviously a signal that economic populism and outsourcing will be a key Democratic issue over the next seven weeks, but the real goal here is to make Boehner the face of a misguided Republican Party.

In general, most of the country has never heard of the man who may be Speaker. Democrats, then, are rushing to define him now — painting him as a corporate shill unsympathetic to the concerns of American workers. Sixteen years ago, after the GOP takeover in the wake of the ’94 midterms, Newt Gingrich helped define himself with a series of bizarre remarks and moves the public found distasteful. Defining Boehner will likely be a little trickier — he’s not usually as bombastic as Gingrich — but his areas of vulnerability are nearly as plentiful.

This is the first ad, but I suspect it’s not the last.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.