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A simple ad along these lines will be far more effective for a Republican challenger to a Democratic incumbent than any elaborately conceived negative commercial:
“Do you support the $850 billion stimulus package Obama passed last year? Joe Democrat voted yes.
Harry Republican says no.
“The TARP bailout? Democrat voted in favor. Republican is opposed.
“Obamacare? Joe Democrat supported it. Harry Republican would have voted no.
“Cap and trade? Democrat yes, again. Republican, no.
“Vote for the one that agrees with you.”
If you have to run a disclaimer featuring the candidate, just end the ad up with: “I’m Harry Republican, and I approve of this ad to bring you the facts. Just the facts.”
The whole idea is to make the ad totally credible — an ad where your opponent should be willing to pay for half of it. Like an ad sponsored by the League of American Voters or some such group.
This approach may rob your media advisor of his creativity and give your staff less satisfaction than a blood-drenched negative, but it will work far better.
Tony Schwartz, my mentor, once told me that he would read me two identical ads that would elicit totally different reactions:
Ad One: “You can read the truth about the pornography industry in a three-part series in The New York Times.”
Ad Two: “You can read the truth about the pornography industry in a three-part series in the National Enquirer.”
Of course, these are totally different ads, but the difference is in the mind of the listener. The impartial, just-the-facts approach to negative advertising passes the internal screens voters have on ad credibility and does its work inside the voters’ mind. And the adjectives they would use to describe Obama’s programs to themselves are far, far more devastating than the ones your ad person can conceive.
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