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Experts Say Going Negative Good

Let me be the one to come to the defense of Jerry Kilgore’s campaign.  No campaign is perfect, and I have no doubt they made many mistakes.  Trust me, the liberals HOPE the lesson Republicans learn is that we should not run “attack” ads that hold them accountable for all their evil deeds.  In fact, I bet that email is a plant.  It’s like when someone calls Rush Limbaugh and says, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not voting for Bush because …”

If you want to know the truth about the importance of tough, hardball political ads, don’t take my word for it.  Take theirs:

  • “[Kerry’s] polls (in 2004) told them that the people don’t like negative campaigns. It was foolish to listen to that. You cannot be quiet while they make you out to be a villain. You have to find the ways to explain the positive attributes of your candidate, while you campaign negatively about the other candidate.”—George Lakoff
  • “Voters will tell you in focus groups that they don’t like negative ads, but they retain the information so much better than the positive ones.”—Roger Stone
  • “Candidates engage in negative campaigning because it works.”—Susan Estrich
  • “It is easy to discount advertising on the grounds that no one could believe it. … Can anyone really believe that beer makes men attractive to women? Yet that pitch continues to be made, year in and year out, for the simple reason that it works. So does negative political advertising.”—Charles Krauthammer

Source Notes: George Lakoff’s comment came from an interview in Start Making Sense: Turning the Lessons of Election 2004 Into Winning Progressive Politics. All other quotes all are from Crowded Airwaves: Campaign Advertising in Elections.

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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