Stupid Campaign Tricks

Now comes word (via Prometheus) that the Dean camp plans to run campaign ads in Texas.

Dean Campaign to Run TV Ads–in Texas

Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean will begin running a combative anti-Bush television commercial Monday–in Texas only.

In the ad, which Dean taped last Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he wears a blue, open-necked work shirt, faces the camera, and says, “I want to change George Bush’s reckless foreign policy, stand up for affordable healthcare, and create new jobs… Has anybody really stood up against George Bush and his policies? Don’t you think it’s time somebody did?”

The media buy cost between $100,000 and $200,000, U.S. News has learned. It will run in Austin, 87 miles away from where Bush is vacationing in Crawford.

So let me get this straight. Thousands of none-too-wealthy contributors pitch in to aid in Dean’s fundraising success. But rather than spend the money prudently, his campaign sees fit to squander large wads of cash in an audacious publicity stunt?

Some say this move proves the candidate is bold and ballsy. I disagree. I think this sort of spectacle is indicative of the ever-widening stature gap between Howard Dean and the president. That they would go nipping at the president’s heels on his way to vacation underscores the Dean campaign’s tendency to engage in petty,bring it on-ish venting rather than cultivate an image of a serious and concerned candidate who is ready to govern at a crucial point in the nation’s history.

The news of Dean pouring resources into Texas — a state in which he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning — reminds me of Gov. Bush’s trips to California and New Jersey in the waning days of Campaign 2000. Bush’s advisers told him that he was doing great. That he already had the election in the bag. That it would be fun to “run up the score” and stick it to the Dems one last time.

Bush and his faithful must have enjoyed high-fiving the fringe-state Republicans along his victory lap. They were shocked, too, to watch on Election Day as Al Gore nearly pulled off the Pennsylvania-Michgan-Florida trifecta to guarantee himself the presidency.

Sure, the first primary vote is over 4 months away, but this kind of irresponsible move isn’t promising. As a Dean detractor in a battleground state (Pennsylvania), I’d much rather he address the serious concerns about his candidacy than whoop up his angry partisans by projecting ads into the heart of Bush Country.

For now, I hope the Deanies have fun gloating that they are carelessly making hay in the belly of the enemy. If this attitude continues into the general election, that statement will be more accurate than they think.

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2 Responses to Stupid Campaign Tricks

  1. prometheusspeaks says:

    Well, after seeing the ad, I doubt it is very effective, but in terms of strategy, he got free airplay on Meet the Press today, which is probably only the beginning. I agree with much of your assessment of Dean’s weaknesses as a candidate, but when the mere promise of a limited ad run gets you national coverage for a relative pittance, that aspect of the strategy seems to make sense.

  2. Luke Francl says:

    I think you’re wrong. Not only does Dean get national attention for his TV ads (again! He got free coverage for running the first ad, in Iowa; now he gets free coverage for running the second ad in Texas, and the third ad in Mass. and NH), but Texas has a relatively early primary with a lot of delegates.

    And it shows that Dean will take the fight to Bush. That’s the attitude we need to win in 2004.

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