Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Anti-Hillary Sentiment & Election '08

After the GOP debate on Sunday I made an observation on the Republican candidates attempts to smear HRC:

Treating her like the front-runner, even by trashing her, only plays right into her hands. Frank Luntz was exactly right when he was begging that focus group of troglodytes for answers on why they approved so heartily each time the candidates slammed Hillary: every second devoted to beating up on the Clintons is a second they are not using to discuss their principles. Save the attacks for TV ads, radio spots and surrogates. John Kerry thought anti-Bush sentiment would be enough to get him into the White House -- how well did that work out for him?

Today I see Dave Wiegel at the American Conservative (via RCP) and James Joyner (via Kevin Drum) are on the same page with that argument. Here's Joyner quoting Weigel:

Yet for all of that outrage, Republicans lost that election to the Clintons. And the hope that voters will see what they see and reject what the Clintons stand for resembles the plan Democrats clung to in 2004. They choose John Kerry on the theory he would be the least controversial general-election candidate, then counted on an electorate fed up with George W. Bush to deliver the election.
Let me add another element to this discussion. The way Hillary bashing is currently being framed, the discussion seems to suggest that the negative campaigning will be a one way street; namely, that the GOP will be beating up on poor defenseless little Hillary Clinton. This is an incredibly naive assumption. If the Republicans think for a second that Team Hillary is not prepared to unleash Hell on whomever the nominee is, they are in for a world of hurt. I'd plan on there being a constant exchange of negative campaigning during the '08 election that may, in effect, negate each sets of messages. Having an actual plan for the country will be important once each side has slimed each other beyond recognition.

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