A memorable performance becomes a memorable ad

A MEMORABLE PERFORMANCE BECOMES A MEMORABLE AD…. It’s been about two weeks since Arizona’s first and last debate for this year’s gubernatorial candidates, and state Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) hopes to remind voters what we learned about Jan Brewer (R) during the event.

As you may recall, Brewer drew a blank during her opening statement, struggling badly to explain what she’s done in office over the last couple of years. Emphasizing her painful silence, this Goddard ad shines a light on some of Arizona’s more pressing problems, juxtaposing the governor’s debate confusion with her inability to address state issues.

“Is this the best Arizona can do?” is the hard-hitting tag line.

What’s more, Brewer’s now-notorious debate performance is the subject of two other Goddard campaign ads, including her debunked arguments about immigrant “beheadings,” which led to an embarrassing moment for the governor after the debate.

Will an ad like this make a difference? It’s hard to say. There hasn’t been much in the way of polling in Arizona lately, so we don’t really have a sense if the debate made any impact with voters at all. For that matter, the GOP base has come to see Brewer as a hero after she signed Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill into law, and that alone is likely to keep her in office, whether she’s up to the job or not. It’s safe to assume she remains the clear frontrunner in the race.

But moments like Brewer’s debate freeze don’t come along often. If anything can raise public doubts about her abilities, this has a chance.

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Steve Benen

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.