This Just In: Republicans Really Good at Attack Ads

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McCain’s newest ad is the fourth in the past week to invoke Hillary Clinton’s primary-era criticisms of Barack Obama. This time, though, it’s a double whammy. McCain is also going the scare tactic route, using images of tanks, missiles, and masked men under the words, “Uncertainty. Dangerous aggression. Rogue nations. Radicalism.” It quotes Clinton questioning Obama’s readiness to be Commander-in-Chief and ends with, “Hillary’s right. John McCain for president.”

Kevin argues that until we know this ad is running widely, we should treat it like a flyer or blog post put out by two-bit crazies. I tend to disagree. (1) The very first “celebrity” attack ads against Obama weren’t widely circulated, but the McCain campaign’s internal polling or focus groups must have told them they were on to something because that meme exploded over the course of late summer. If Democrats are going to keep hurtful frames from dominating the campaign for weeks or months at a time, they need to look at and respond to new McCain approaches in their nascent stages. And (2) these ads are excellent examples of how to go negative well. The Democrats look like they need every lesson they can get in that respect.

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