North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis (R) is touting his blue-collar roots in a new ad aimed at improving his image with voters and emphasizing his non-legislative experience.

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"I came up in the real world," Tillis says in the ad. "I've been a paperboy, a short-order cook, a warehouse clerk, and eventually a partner at IBM. The Senate could use more people who had to sweat for a living, and fewer of the politicians who made this mess."

Tillis has struggled in his race against Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.) partly due to his involvement in the state legislature, which is deeply unpopular in the state, and partly because his early weak fundraising has kept him from being on the air with many positive ads. Hagan, on the other hand, has struggled to overcome President Obama's poor approval ratings in the Tar Heel State and the unpopularity of Washington, D.C., politicians.

This spot looks to emphasize a different part of Tillis's background and improve his personal image with undecided voters. Democrats have sought to paint him as someone who's focused on helping the rich at the expense of middle-class voters in a barrage of attack ads.

Recent public polling has shown a tight race between the two in the swing state.

—This post was updated at 10:45 a.m.