Lewis vs. Freddoso: Round Two

David Freddoso’s blog today questions my assessment that the Kilgore ads did not cost him the election.

Frankly, I’m very excited that this blog is finally getting a tad controversial. I personally oppose David’s opinion. But as a Human Events blogger, I take my oath seriously. I’ll fight for his right to say it, because that’s the law.

In making his argument, David has listed the following points, which I’d like to rebut:

1) David writes, “The death penalty was not a relevant issue in Virginia at any time during this election.”

My article made the case that the ads should have been used at the end of the election.  Had that been the case, the death penalty would certainly have been a relevant issue during the critical time when most undecided voters are making their decisions.  This was clearly an issue where Kilgore was in the mainstream of public opinion in VA.  David’s point that Kilgore failed to make hay out of this issue is well taken.  I stick by my argument that the biggest mistake regarding the ads was running them too soon before Election Day.

2) He says, “The ads were just freaking awful.”

These ads were produced by Scott Howell, one of the most successful and respected media guru’s in the business.  In fact, Kilgore initially surged in the polls directly after they aired.  In calling these ads “awful”, he is applying a commercial standard that I don’t think fits political advertising. Campaign ads are never going to be lauded as “brilliant.”  The Swift Boat ads (also produced by Howell), the Willie Horton ads, or the infamous Daisy ad, have all have been criticized.  … Yet, these ads were all highly effective.

3) David wrote, “Kaine had the perfect response to it, and"

Tim Kaine’s response was basically, “I voted for it, before I voted against it.”  (“I’m against the death penalty, but I will support it.”)

A year ago, this response would have been criticized as waffling. This once again proves my ultimate point that the zeitgeist made a Kilgore victory extremely difficult.  Kilgore had to run a “perfect” campaign to win in ’05.  Kaine just had to do okay. 

Again, I stick by my assessment that the biggest problem the Kilgore campaign made regarding the ads was running them too soon before Election Day.  Remember, the ads put Kaine on the defense and it took him a coupe of days to get any traction.  Had the ads been better timed, Kaine would not have had time to launch an effective response.

4) Lastly, he said: “The death penalty campaign was obviously disingenuous anyway.”

Not sure what he means by this???

Again, I’m happy to be attacked.  I hope my response works as well as Kaine’s did!