Repubicans Go Negative

The Los Angeles Times is the latest paper to review the Republcan strategy of going negative. When they have failed at governing, and a majority opposes them on the issues, negative attack ads are all the Republicans have left. With Democrats currently more motivated to vote, Republicans hope they can suppress turnout among those who would vote Democratic:

While President Bush and national GOP leaders are attacking Democrats on such big issues as national security and America’s role in the world, individual Republicans are hitting their opponents hard — below the belt, some critics say — on personal and local issues.

Negative campaigning is hardly new, and Democrats are dishing dirt against Republicans too. But mudslinging is crucial to the Republican plan for this year’s midterm elections, because the party’s hold on power will probably hinge on shifting attention from the unpopular war in Iraq and other national issues that cut against them.

“When people are looking at national issues that are not breaking our way, what you want to do is focus on your opponent,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a former Republican National Committee chief of staff. “You’ve got to play the field’s conditions. They demand very tough tactics.”

Cole spelled out that approach in a recent strategy memo to House Republicans: “Define your opponent immediately and unrelentingly…. Do not let up — keep the tough ads running right up to election day. Don’t make the mistake of pulling your ads in favor of a positive rotation the last weekend.”

Republican incumbents this year began running attack ads earlier than ever. But the hardest-hitting are yet to come.

“You haven’t seen the majority of the negative ads yet,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, where a staff of 10 has been deployed on opposition research.

Hopefully the negative ads, along with increasing media coverage, will lead to a backlash. Some voters, rather than believing the smears, may start to wonder why the party in power cannot run on their record and is forced to resort to such tactics.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    mbk says:

    Good last sentence! I do hold out the poignant hope that people won’t be fooled this time

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