Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

In case anyone has forgotten how vicious Republican attacks can be, here are just some of the ideas they are currently testing before they begin their final round of ads this cycle. From an email sent by a friend of mine in Bucks County (PA-08), who recently participated in a Tarrance Group poll for PA-08:First they ask you what your most important issue is. Here are the answers for immigration:
  • Patrick Murphy wants to let 68 million illegal immigrants into the country
  • Patrick Murphy will give Medicare benefits to "illegals"
  • Patrick Murphy will give full in-state college tuition to "illegals"
  • Patrick Murphy wants to dissolve the Patriot Act, making it easier for terrorists to attack our country.
I don't think that this is exactly a push poll (see Mystery Pollster's discussion on push polls last month). My guess is that they are testing negative messages and seeing what impact those messages have upon trial heat numbers. We have seen similar polls in VT-AL and NY-20 this year. Testing negative messages isn't push polling--it is just testing negative messages. I have done the same thing in polls I have conducted.

What is happening, however, is that once again Democrats are shocked at just how vicious Republican attacks are going to be. A source told me that the Murphy campaign received several phone calls from supporters about this poll, because people were shocked at how awful the questions were. Well, in my experience, they might actually be getting off easy. In 2004, Ginny Schrader and Lois Murphy were accused of raping young women in Afghanistan in the final NRCC ads (as were several other Democratic challengers that year). I remember when that ad first went on the air against Ginny Schrader, my current girlfriend (we weren't dating at the time) called me up immediately after she saw it because she thought it was unbelievably offensive. In fact, I believe her exact phrasing was she had "just seen the most offensive ad of her life, and it was against Ginny Schrader."

That is what I believe is happening here. Murphy supporters were polled and given a sample of the NRCC's nuclear messaging for this cycle. Once again, we are shocked and taken aback by just how vicious the messaging is. By this point, however, we should not be shocked. This is simply standard operating procedure for Republicans, just like suppressing the minority vote. Too often, liberals and progressives, who dream of clean, uncorrupted elections based entirely on policy, are not prepared to answer--much less pre-empt--Republican attacks in kind. I have written before about the lack of stomach to win on the left, and that we are repeatedly shocked by Republican attacks in demonstrative of that continuing trend.

President Clinton has won the news cycle for us over the past couple of days. His toughness in standing up to Faux News by launching an articulate counter-attack against any further slanted questions remains the number one political story in the country. Now we are on the attack, and Republicans are decidedly on the defensive. This happened because President Clinton did not respond to attacks against him, and instead launched an attack of his own. This is what we have to be ready to do in every campaign across the country. We can't fool ourselves into thinking that Republicans won't get much nastier than they have so far. We have to be ready to get much tougher than we have been so far. If you aren't willing to do that, then take an anti-acid, and volunteer in a way that does not put you on the front lines. This is going to get mean.

Tags: Media, messaging, PA-08, polls (all tags)

Comments

28 Comments

Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

I got a poll very similar to that from Vernon Robinson, here in NC-13.  I let the Miller campaign know about it.  That BS really should be illegal...

by Kalil 2006-09-26 08:18AM | 0 recs
illegal?

What part of the First Amendment allows the regulation of mean political speech?

by Adam B 2006-09-26 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: illegal?

That reminds me of my stock answer.

Republican lies are protected by the first ammendment  ....its the damn stealing I get mad about!

by bubbleboy 2006-09-26 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

WE HAVE TO PREEMPT THEM!

We have to accuse the Republicans of going negative before they actually do - and make an issue of it, about how they don't have any positive messages and must resort to negative ads. Then when they do, we say, "you see...Republicans are out of ideas so they're going negative."

Then we UNLEASH HOLY HELL on them!

by JackBourassa 2006-09-26 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

his happened because President Clinton did not respond to attacks against him, and instead launched an attack of his own. /

That is Bill Clinton's greatest skill as a communicator, imo. His counter-punching skills are awe-inspiring. He turns every attack against him into an attack against his attackers, and somehow makes his line of attack stick.

Every Democrat should internalize that idea though: /everything is an attack opportunity.

by BriVT 2006-09-26 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Great post.  I can't figure out why Dems are so surprised the Repubs play dirty.  This is nothing new.  Bush I won the Presidency in 1988 by questioning the patriotism of Michael Dukakis.  

Clinton was great the other day.  You can argue with his some of his policy positions but he and his team believed:

1 - Be on the offensive.

2 - Don't let attacks go unanswered

I can't figure out why Dems get away from these 2 important rules in politics.  

by John Mills 2006-09-26 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

There's something about the illegals that sticks in their craws.  Check this email I go from my very Repub brother-in-law:

I think where we are going wrong is the far left thinks everyone (including illegals) should enjoy a full array of constitutional rights.

This conversation was regarding searches of students on school property, but note how he had to throw the 'illegals' in there.  It's even it's own little coded shorthand like 'democrat' or 'pc' or 'feminazi' or 'gay marriage.'

It's this season's fear word:  fight 'illegals' - vote GOP.

by lutton 2006-09-26 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: "Fight Illegals - Vote GOP"

That is the coming Republican theme of the 2008 elections right there. If you think this election cycle is rough, wait for the gloves-off racist campaign over the next 2 years, ESPECIALLY if the Democrats retake the House in 2006!

Welcome to the 19th century election strategy. We can confidently expect endless talk about "limiting immigrant rights", etc, law aimed at discriminating against immigrants of all types, not just illegals. This is just code words for "keep America white - keep our jobs."

It reflects worker anger and fear at declining jobs and living standards. Instead of organizing to fight back against corporations that export jobs and their supporters in Congress and the White House, the idea is to attack immigrants, since obviously they're to blame for everything.

But these ideas appeal strongly to the know-nothing element of America. As the economy gets endlessly worse and decent paying jobs ever more scarce, these ideas will make increasing inroads into the middle class too.

The Democratic party desparately needs to make economic justice for all the rallying cry against this onslaught or it will face another decade out of power.

by Cugel 2006-09-26 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: "Fight Illegals - Vote GOP"

But I don't think it goes over with, for example, suburban voters.  They see racism as distasteful and embarassing.  Look at what is happening to George Allen.  There is an element that laps this stuff up, but they are small, and no where near the majority.  Plus, all the hate speech on talk radio is driving Latinos away from the GOP.  They can't have it both ways.  This will hurt them in more parts of the country than it helps.

by Mimikatz 2006-09-26 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

The first and foremost message to use is:

"The Republicans' Party Lies."

They've lied before they invaded Iraq. They lied about occupying Iraq. They lied when their friends got caught with a hand in the government's till. They've lied about the Department of Homeland Security being all about protecting you against terror and hurricanes. They lie when they say they don't torture or don't spy on you or don't lock up Americans without trial for years. They lie.

They spent 300 billion dollars and 2800 American lives keeping Saddam Hussein from giving weapons he didn't have to terrorists he didn't know. And they lied about it, before, during, and after.

Now, what's that they're saying about Candidate X again?

by Brian CB 2006-09-26 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

So...maybe we should fight back with our own abrasive style of messaging? How about this (in PA-08, for example - and this is just a sample; asking ridiculously hyperbolic questions is not in my nature):

-Did you know that Mike Fitzpatrick kills American soldiers by continuing to support Bush's failed policies in Iraq?
-Did you know that Mike Fitzpatrick kills the sick of America by voting against stem cell research?
-Did you know Mike Fitzpatrick kills our seniors by voting for increased Medicare costs?

Hopefully, the Murphy campaign hits back hard.

by PsiFighter37 2006-09-26 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

I love it.  No reason for us to fight with one hand tied behind our backs.

by John Mills 2006-09-26 08:41AM | 0 recs
Perfect!

As I told my friend yesterday (his ex-roommate continues to harrass him):

Just tell the truth! It's damning enough to get him in trouble!

Yep, this applies to our election strategy as well. We don't need to make up lies about them as they do to us, but we shouldn't be standing around, picking our noses, either. We just need to keep throwing the truth back at 'em.

The truth is damning enough, and the truth will set us free! : )

by atdleft 2006-09-26 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Well, all I have to say is that you'd have to be an idiot to believe that someone actually supports letting 68 million people into the country. I mean, come on now.

by Covin 2006-09-26 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Could backfire

Rick Santorum has been going all negative all the time on Bob Casey recently, yet the new Q-Poll out
shows Casey's favorables actually going up.

In fact in Santorum's home county, Allegheny, his own unfavorable is at an amazing 50%!

I think part of both results can be attributed to Santorum's negative ads.

by phillydem 2006-09-26 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Could backfire

I disagree.  I think the bounce is because Bob Casey finally decided to start airing TV ads. This is a result of people actually seeing him on television.

by maddogg 2006-09-26 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

The biggest problem here as it is everywhere is the Republicans' total control of the maintstream media. This enables them to give wide publicity to any attack strategy they use.

Because the real danger isn't the advertising itself. It's the complementary themes that are parroted endlessly on "news" shows.

Example: The Swift Boat ads weren't all that effective just by themselves. (I live in Colo. and I might have seen 2 such 30 second ads during the entire election season -- and they launced a blizzard of them in this state). But, they enabled the useless media apparachiks to stage endless talkshows and "news" segments in which they put a swift boat liar up against some straw-man defender and pontificated about the "controversy" over Kerry's military record; a controversy that was entirely fictional and media generated and maintained.

If they can do that they can do anything and the media will let them get away with it. Democrats need to anticipate these things and go immediately onto the offensive the minute they appear, just as Clinton did. Frankly the most effective part of his response was to attack the media for bias. Republicans have been doing that for decades, without any basis in fact. Democrats need to make that a priority too, to put endless pressure on the media, and develop the theme that the media is biased against Democrats and unfairly repeats Republican talking points.

by Cugel 2006-09-26 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Total control of the media? Are you insane. Sure, I'll give you Fox News and the Op-Ed of the Wall Street Journal. But since when did Couric and Co start sleeping with the GOP. And when has PBS been seen as a allied of the conservatives.

by Jim Winkler 2006-09-26 06:12PM | 0 recs
Bingo

Both Swift Boat and Willie Horton were all about free media leverage. (All kidding aside, so was Johnson's flower-pedal ad attack on Goldwater, which never cost one thin dime in paid media).

The thing that really helped from the ABC shit-piece getting that same kind of leverage was the immediate before and after pushback.

Immigration is a dangerous issue. I think we have to "out-immigrant" them, to borrow an exceedingly unpleasant George Wallace concept.

1. Illegal immigrants are brought into this country by big business, mostly to work in the fields.

2. Big Business is overwhelmingly Republicans.

3. Ergo, the Republicans are to blame for illegal immigration.

4. We were safer under the Democrats, when the laws against illegal immigration were enforced.

This could be the text of a press conference held in a field of bracero-picked cotton.

Basically, we need to mirror the GOP ads in a way that will confuse the voters and therefore neutralize the issue.

And, as with the 9/11 movie, as with any bar fight, we should land the first punch.

-Steve

by stevehigh 2006-09-26 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Clinton knew exactly what he was doing.  In the Sept 18th issue of the New Yorker, David Remnick profiles Bill Clinton.  Early in the article Remnick relates a story about flying with Clinton to Africa and Clinton holding forth on a number of topics but that he kept returning to the theme of "leaning into the Republicans."  Clinton literally and figuratively leaned into Chris Wallace, who can easily be seen as a proxy for the Republicans.  Clinton was loaded for bear and the bear fell into the trap.

by accumbens 2006-09-26 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

As Clinton did, Dem leaders need to be relentless in making it clear that Fox/Repub talking heads are liars and bullies, then beat them down relentlessly with the truth.  I've seen Wes Clark do this as well on Fox.  It also makes "good TV" and is more likely to get picked up and rerun by other news outlets.  It takes balls AND an ability to think and speak clearly and, as needed, to talk over the Chris Wallace's and Shaun Hannity's when they try to bully or weasel their way out of it.  I thought Jim Webb's new ad does a good job on that front...a powerful 30 seconds of "strong, clear and smart" Democratic leader, contrasted with a weak, deluded Bush-lapdog Repub failure.

by mitchipd 2006-09-26 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Clinton knew exactly what he was doing.  In the Sept 18th issue of the New Yorker, David Remnick profiles Bill Clinton.  Early in the article Remnick relates a story about flying with Clinton to Africa and Clinton holding forth on a number of topics but that he kept returning to the theme of "leaning into the Republicans."  Clinton literally and figuratively leaned into Chris Wallace, who can easily be seen as a proxy for the Republicans.  Clinton was loaded for bear and the bear fell into the trap.

by accumbens 2006-09-26 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

"Patrick Murphy wants to let 68 million illegal immigrants into the country"

That probably doesn't include the "illegal" part and probably refers to the Senate amnesty, which could result in that many new legal immigrants over 20 years. Needless to say, that would also encourage millions of illegal aliens to come here over that time, but that can't be as easily quantified.

"Patrick Murphy will give full in-state college tuition to "illegals"

That's a reference to the DREAMAct or similar state bills.

The best way for the Democrats to counter that is to point out how it's necessary to take discounted college educations away from U.S. citizens and give them to foreign citizens who are here illegally. Yes, U.S. citizens will be hurt by that, but, that's OK because foreign citizens who have the full rights of their native lands will be helped so it's OK. It's also acceptable that U.S. citizenship should be devalued for some reason or other.

by TheLonewackoBlog 2006-09-26 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

The "68 million" figure is a figment of a rightwinger's imagination.  Look it up.

by Mimikatz 2006-09-26 12:39PM | 0 recs
So, you're still Pro War then...

good, 'cause I agree.. Democrats will fear no Evil!

by David in Burbank 2006-09-26 09:53AM | 0 recs
But how do you respond to that?

Whats a good way to attack (not COUNTER attack, just ATTACK)?

by MNPundit 2006-09-26 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Good news: Anyone who saw the last debate between Murphy and his opponent knows that Murphy puts the "fight" in "Fighting Dem." He's strongly defending his own plan for getting the troops back home and working hard to spread the message that his opponent has no plan for Iraq aside from standing by George Bush.

Of course, to keep taking the fight to the Republicans on the airwaves, he needs to keep raising money, especially during this final week of the quarter. $100 pays for one cable ad. $59.50 symbolically pays for a one-way train ticket home for Mike Fitzpatrick from Washington. So if you're reading this and can give this Fighting Dem any help, here's a link.

(Disclosure: I'm a volunteer for and enthusiast of the Murphy campaign.)

by bschak 2006-09-26 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Republicans Set To Go Nuclear

Clinton won the news cycle?? Anyone can get attention when one goes ballistic over a legitimate question

by Jim Winkler 2006-09-26 06:05PM | 0 recs

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