Brining Out The Big Guns

Democratic hopefuls have had the playing field and the ear of the media to themselves for the 6-12 months. In that time and especially recently, they have managed to pump up the perceived importance of the drivel coming out of their stump speeches and ponderous debates. All they’ve managed to achieve is to make people aware that they (the far left of the Democratic Party) seem to be pissed about the war and a laundry list of other things Joe and Jane Suburbia in Peoria couldn’t give shit about. What is strikingly obvious, when viewed as a whole from afar, is that the bickering over the war and occupation in Iraq is just that. There is no Democratic alternative.

Up to this point Republicans and the President have remained in the locker room, so to speak, having yet to dress for the game. Well now the RNC is getting into the game – G.O.P. to Run an Ad for Bush on Terror Issue.

With somber strings playing in the background, the commercial flashes the words “Strong and Principled Leadership” before cutting to Mr. Bush standing before members of Congress. Intended to call out the Democrats for their opposition to Mr. Bush’s military strategy of pre-emptively striking those who pose threats to the nation, the screen flashes “Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others,” then urges viewers to tell Congress “to support the president’s policy of pre-emptive self defense.”

The key to victory for Bush is to show the disjointed message collectively being pushed by the Democrats and to highlight their far left leanings (now a requirement in the Democratic primary season) before they can abandon the radical wing of the party in search of general election moderate votes. Paint them into the corner they’ve voluntarily lined up to get in.

“Advertising matters when there’s a one-sided flow of information,” said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin advertising project. “Clearly the R.N.C. and the Bush campaign were beginning to believe that the drum beat of Democratic advertising, in addition to the attention the Democrats were getting in the free media, created a one-sided drum beat against the president.”

Compared with the last time a sitting president ran for re-election without a primary opponent, the Republicans are behind the advertising curve.

President Bill Clinton presented his first advertisements in June 1995, an extraordinarily early campaign that some of his strategists credited with having an important role in preparing the way for his re-election.

Bill Dal Col, a Republican consultant who ran Steve Forbes’s primary campaigns in 1996 and 2000, argued that Mr. Clinton was a far weaker candidate then than Mr. Bush is now, and was under even greater political fire when he started his campaign.

Still, he said, the new Republican commercial was a smart bid to shape the Democratic debate from the sidelines. “In this case you balance the harsh attacks coming, but you also suck up resources they’re raising and force them to spend money now,” he said.

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  1. James Joyner November 21, 2003