The presidential campaign has been strikingly negative so far, but this week voters saw how really nasty it’s likely to become. Both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have had lots of misleading TV ads, ones that made their points by taking comments out of context or “exaggerating for effect” the opponent’s positions. But a new ad from Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action is so vile even some Democrats say a new low has been reached.
In the ad, former Missouri steelworker Joe Soptic says, “When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care.” The ad then goes on to suggest that his wife died of cancer because of the closing. “There was nothing they could do for her, and she passed away in 22 days. I do not think that Mitt Romney realizes what he’s done to anyone.”
The only problem is that the whole ad is a lie. Soptic’s wife died five years after he lost his job, and she had her own job with health insurance for part of that time.
“It’s one thing to be negative,” warns conservative strategist Frank Lutz. It’s another thing to demonize your opponent.” Such ads may energize the base, but they’re likely to turn off enough undecided voters to swing an election.
Well, we’ll see. Until this week, Obama and Romney were in a statistical tie. But a couple of new polls this week show Obama has pulled ahead enough to be out of margin-of-error territory. The unpleasant fact is that negative ads work.
And Romney has a whole lot of campaign money he hasn’t spent yet. Don’t expect him to be Mr. Nice Guy in the next three months.