Some Democrats are asking: Isn’t Richard Moore’s campaign too negative? Won’t he suffer a backlash for attacking Beverly Perdue?
The answers are no and no.
For nearly thirty years, since the onset of negative TV ads, I’ve heard the same arguments: “People won’t believe those attacks.” “Voters don’t like negative ads. You need to stay positive.” “A candidate who goes negative will only hurt himself.”
Wrong. People do believe the attacks, unless they’re told different. Voters say they don’t like negative ads, but they pay attention to them. And while sometimes there is a backlash, a backlash doesn’t just happen by itself. The candidate under attack has to use some political judo on the attacker.
Democrats are especially good at fooling themselves. That’s why so many candidates won’t go on the offensive. Their inner circles tell them all the above conventional wisdom, in all sincerity. And it’s always bad advice.
Moore’s campaign has zeroed in on what it believes is Perdue’s weak spot: Can you trust her? They’re raising questions about her resumes and her position on abortion. Every specific attack has one theme: credibility.
Destroy an opponent’s credibility, and you destroy his or her campaign.
So far, Perdue’s campaign hasn’t shown it can do the judo. The best they’ve come up with is charging Moore with “Jesse Helms tactics.”
That won’t cut it, Beverly. You need to realize, right now, that you’re adrift in dangerous waters. Moore’s guns have found their range, and you’re taking on water with political insiders and fundraisers. If you don’t figure out how to respond – soon – you’ll start sinking.
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