Paul Tsongas plunged into Maryland's political waters first, getting the electronic jump on his Democratic opponents in the state's March 3 primary with a television advertisement that began airing Sunday.
The spot, which his campaign calls "Swim," shows the presidential candidate approaching a large indoor swimming pool. After jumping into the water, Mr. Tsongas does a butterfly stroke as a voice-over intones various challenges the former Massachusetts senator has tackled in his personal and political life.
"It's the same spot we started with up in New Hampshire back in November or December," said Michael Shea, media adviser for the Tsongas campaign.
"It's a tried and true method of how a campaign is built. The idea is that the first thing you do in any conversation is that you introduce yourself. Later, you move into talking about what you believe in, what you're going to do when you're president.
"Up in New Hampshire, you had a lot of candidates starting their conversation in the middle, trying to talk about issues before they had let the people know who they are. Now they're trying to go back and introduce themselves."
Mr. Shea said that the decision to get an early start in Maryland reflects the overall strategy of the Tsongas campaign.
"He's ahead of his time," Mr. Shea said of his candidate. "He was the first one to get in the race back in the spring, the first one up in New Hampshire in the fall, the first one to go back after the holidays. I think doing that has served us well."
Mr. Shea said the Tsongas campaign has not decided whether to run issue-oriented ads tailored to Maryland. "It's a matter of having the time to do it," he said. He didn't say how much the candidate plans to spend here but indicated the question was one of time not money.
The spot ran on Channel 11 (WBAL) and Channel 13 (WJZ) on Sunday. Ads for Mr. Tsongas will begin running this week on Channel 2 (WMAR), said Arnold Kleiner, general manager of the station.