Updated: August 2 Who are these working people with the Southern accents saying such nice things about Tom Foley in his latest campaign commercial? The ad doesn’t say, but at one time or another, Foley was their boss.

Foley, one of two contenders for the Republican nomination for governor, is running an ad designed to inoculate against anticipated efforts to portray the wealthy Greenwich businessman as disconnected from working class concerns. In fact, Foley aired the same the piece during his first run in 2010, when he was under attack as the absentee owner who drove a textile mill into bankruptcy.

The version now on the air:

“When I had a stroke, Tom Foley was there for me and my family,” one man says, looking into the camera. As the image cuts to a younger man, he says, “Tom was not afraid to roll his sleeves up.”

In Foley’s first commercial, his wife described him as a “regular guy” and viewers saw the candidate in a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt helping his oldest son work on a car engine. After a spot attacking his opponents, Foley is back to establishing his own positive image with a piece titled, “Good Man.”

During his first run in 2010, Republican Michael C. Fedele and Democrat Dannel P. Malloy both ran ads portraying Foley as an investor who bled cash from the Bibb Co., a Georgia textile manufacturer. Some featured workers who blamed Foley for the company’s demise.

This year, Foley is trying to define his own image before Democrats get the chance. He’s used a 2010 commercial, edited to take out a 2010 logo and insert recent footage of Foley and his wife.

The version from 2010:

Chris Cooper, a spokesman for the Foley campaign, said one of the unnamed speakers in the new commercial worked at the Bibb when Foley was the owner. He declined to say which one, and the ad makes no mention of any company, only that the speakers once worked for Foley.

An announcer begins, “People who have worked with Tom Foley know he cares.”

What follows is a string of one-sentence testimonials:

“I’ve worked with Tom for 21 years.

“Tom Foley’s my friend.”

“As my family faces a battle with cancer, Tom is there for us.”

“When I had a stroke, Tom Foley was there for me and my family.”

“Tom was not afraid to roll his sleeves up.

You know, he’s family oriented, and I always considered Tom a man of integrity.”

“You’ve got to look at the character of the man and his ability to lead.”

“Tom would be a great governor.”

A woman repeats the last line: “Tom would be a great governor.”

Foley left Citicorp Venture Capital to start his own investment company, NTC, which purchased three companies in the late 1980s: Bibb, which went bankrupt during Foley’s tenure and closed under a subsequent owner; T.B . Woods, a manufacturer of power transmission equipment; and Stevens Aviation, which once was a subsidiary of the textile giant, J.P. Stevens.

Foley still controls Stevens, and portions of the commercial were produced in an aviation repair facility. Cooper said all the speakers in the latest commercial worked or still work for Bibb, Woods and Stevens.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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