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Tillis Political Defeat Becomes Pro-Tillis Ad

Courtesy of Carolina Rising

A new ad which began airing statewide Tuesday focuses on one of Thom Tillis’s biggest political defeats this year. But there’s a twist: This is a pro-Tillis ad.

The 30 second spot is called "Samuel." It begins with Kyle and Bobbie Robinson sitting next to each other in their living room. They’re talking about their young son. Kyle speaks first. "We had the same hopes and dreams of any parents." Then Bobbie picks up the story, "We knew that something was wrong with Samuel. When the doctors told us autism, my heart sank."

What follows is the Robinsons saying their insurance wouldn’t cover Samuel’s treatments, while images of their smiling son fill the screen. They didn't know how they would pay to help their son. That's where Thom Tillis comes in. According to Kyle, "Thom Tillis understood those challenges and was a huge advocate for us."

Tillis is a well known advocate on autism issues. He often can be seen wearing an autism pin on his lapel and getting insurance companies to cover autism treatment was a key point early on in his bid for US Senate.


But missing in this ad with soaring music and a touching story is this: Tillis was unable to get any traction this year on a bill to require insurers to cover certain behavioral therapies, including those that help people with autism. The House did pass the bill overwhelmingly in 2013 but since then it’s gone nowhere.

That’s not the point, says Dallas Woodhouse, president of Carolina Rising, the independent conservative group airing the ad. What is important, says Woodhouse, is the fact Tillis tried. "Fighting for kids like Samuel is an honorable thing to do. And people ought to know about it."

So Woodhouse’s group is paying $2 million to run the ad.

Credit Courtesy of Carolina Rising
Samuel Robinson as featured in the ad.

The ad ends with Samuel’s mother saying after treatment he’s now a sweet, bubbly little boy. But without the legislation that means Samuel’s treatment was not due to any effort by Tillis. "Well, they were able to get it through other means," concedes Woodhouse, "but other families aren’t so lucky." 

The ad is running now in all six of North Carolina’s media markets.

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