Unless you are an inside-the-beltway campaign consultant or you have been living an oblivious life, you most likely stand with the rest of the American electorate in being increasingly disgusted with the negative tone that the Republican candidates for President have employed over the last few months. The opportunity for the GOP candidates to coalesce behind a common goal – the “de-transformation of the United States of America” – is slowly passing. The opportunity for them to embrace a teachable moment so as to explain, in layman’s terms, why the country has suffered under the current administration’s policies, and why their proposed platforms bring relief to individuals and business owners across the political ideological divide, is slowly fading into the history books as “what could have been.” It doesn’t have to be this way, but, then, the proprietary minions of the inside-the-beltway GOP establishment don’t much care for the notions of we “fly-over” types. They know all about campaign strategy. Just ask them.
If avoiding the alienation of the electorate’s goodwill wasn’t enough of a reason not to go so personally and caustically negative, there is the notion that in doing so a great amount of damage would be done to each of the candidates, so much so – and for no other reason than to win the nomination at all cost – that the Obama campaign would be handed a full arsenal of negative talking-point ammunition for the General Election campaign. Armed with this free opposition research, already tested for its maximum destructive potency, and close to a $1 billion campaign war chest, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe and Roberts Gibbs could get a mentally challenged three-toed tree sloth elected over the Republican challenger.
And while there is merit to the argument that the negative attack campaigning is “honing” the eventual candidate’s ability to confront the Obama campaign’s inevitable onslaught of attack ads and smear tactics, the fact of the matter is this: Axelrod, Jarrett, Plouffe, Gibbs and President Obama himself are infinitely more acclimated and proficient in the ways of Saul Alinsky than anyone on the Right side of the aisle, short of David Horowitz. The idea that any Republican candidate can compete in the arena of Alinsky negative political campaigning is a reality only in the realm of the absurd. Only a megalomaniac of a Republican campaign strategist would even entertain such a ridiculous notion.
Proof positive that the attack and smear campaign strategy currently being employed by the GOP primary candidates is doing more harm than good comes in the poll numbers. Yes, Mitt Romney’s attack ads aided his campaign in Iowa against Newt Gingrich. And yes, Newt Gingrich’s attack ads helped him in South Carolina. And again, attack ads helped Mr. Romney beat Mr. Gingrich in Florida – even though it cost him close to $17 million to achieve that victory. But, in the end, it was Rick Santorum who – without spending millions of dollars – swept the caucuses in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Out of all of the Republican candidates, Santorum has waged the least negative campaign where attacking his fellow Republicans is concerned. I suppose one could go as far as to say that not only does Mr. Santorum believe and adhere to the Ten Commandments, he holds faithful to the “Eleventh Commandment” as well, or, at least better than the others.
But aside from the GOP primary candidates’ poll numbers and approval ratings – and perhaps more importantly, we need to look at what happened to President Obama’s poll numbers while the mainstream media was fixated on the negative campaigning of the GOP primary candidates.
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