Tom Foley’s new television ad is both an attack on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s record and an attempt to inoculate himself against Malloy’s efforts last week to define Foley as tone-deaf to the concerns of working-class Connecticut voters.

“Dan Malloy’s desperate. That’s why he’s falsely attacking Tom Foley,” a narrator says in the Foley ad released Tuesday. “It’s sad Malloy can’t defend his policies that have failed so miserably. And Connecticut’s hurting – the largest tax increase in state history. Our economy struggles.”

Both campaigns are trying to define their opponents as summer wanes and the more intense fall political season approaches. In Foley’s new ad, the first-term Democratic governor is literally labeled on screen as “Desperate Dan Malloy.”

Foley’s ad cites no evidence to support the claim that Malloy is falsely attacking him. In fact, it does not specify to which attacks it is referring.

The lack of specificity is in contrast to Foley’s assertions about Malloy’s record tax increase and the state of economy. References to news stories about taxes and the economy flash on screen.

Those claims are generally true, with only a slight quibble about the historic status of Malloy’s first-year tax increase: Adjusted for inflation, his increase actually is second to the tax increase imposed by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in his first year.

The Malloy campaign says that Foley “is trying to distort the progress Connecticut has made over the last four years.” Distortion, of course, is a matter of opinion. Foley’s ad accurately quotes news organizations about the state’s slow economic recovery, while Malloy can point to signs of progress, such as a 6.6 percent unemployment rate for July that represents a five-year low.

At 19 seconds of the 30-second spot, the Foley ad shifts tone.

“We need a governor focused on our future,” the narrator says. “Tom Foley’s new direction will make Connecticut great again — new and better jobs, lower taxes, the best schools in America.”

Last week, on the day after Foley won the Republican primary for governor, Malloy went after the GOP nominee in a new ad and in a speech at the Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner in Hartford.

Malloy’s ad shows footage of Foley scolding employees and a Democratic first selectwoman outside Fusion Paperboard, a factory in Sprague being closed by its owner, a global investment firm.

It quickly pivots to the stewardship of the Bibb Co., a Georgia textile manufacturer, by an investment company controlled by Foley. The Bibb’s failure was memorably featured in attack ads used against Foley in 2010 in the Republican primary and general election.

The ad repeats the general story line that surfaced in 2010, when Foley’s opponents and the press recounted the timeline of the Bibb’s slide into bankruptcy under Foley and its eventual failure under a subsequent owner. (The Hartford Courant revisited the episode Tuesday in an advertising “Claim Check” feature that rates Malloy’s ad to be “generally accurate.”)

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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