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S.C. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen is running his first ad of the 2010 general election … a television spot called “Crossroads” that seeks to introduce him to Palmetto state voters and brand his opponent, GOP nominee Nikki Haley, as a continuation of the policies of Gov. Mark Sanford.

“After eight years of Mark Sanford we need a governor to lead us in a new direction,” Sheheen says in the spot, which touts his support for public education and the endorsement he received from the S.C. Chamber of Communists … err, Commerce.

Sheheen returns to the theme later in the ad, saying “I stood up against Mark Sanford. Nikki Haley says she wants to follow in his footsteps, I say this time we need a governor we can trust.”

Ouch …

It’s a good (not great) concept, but the ad strikes us as poorly executed – in large part because Sheheen is positively awful on camera.

Seriously, people … the ability to communicate a message on TV is something you cannot teach a candidate – they either have it or they don’t. Sanford had it. Haley has it (as you can see in her first ad of the general election). But Sheheen? Not so much …

Take a look …

Ummm … yeah.

The only thing missing from this spot is Sheheen squeezing off a round with that shotgun … and then telling us that “life is like a box of chocolates.”

We’ll have to see how South Carolina voters respond to the ad but as far as we’re concerned it confirms everything we’ve written about “Vanilla” Sheheen up to this point in the race – most notably that he’s simply not ready for prime time.

Haley has presented him with opening after opening over the last month (again, no pun intended), but thus far Sheheen appears utterly incapable of exploiting those opportunities. Part of that is his slavish devotion to the state’s failed status quo, part of that is the fact that he may just not be as good a candidate as the Dems thought he would be.

Either way, Haley is crushing Sheheen and we see nothing in this spot that’s going to do anything to change that …

UPDATE: The S.C. Republican Party has just put out a press release responding to Sheheen’s ad …