Yes, negative ads work and they are part of the election process, but trust me that these candidates are writing the script for Obama's re-election campaign. It's not just about whether the Republican Party heals itself by the time the ultimate nominee takes on Obama; it is also about the intensity of voter turnout for the GOP nominee. Has it dawned on any of these candidates that hurling the vilest personal attacks or declaring that a candidate would not vote for another creates bad blood among not only the candidates but also their supporters?
At first, I was shocked at the level of attack leveled at Newt Gingrich. But that's old news now. Since then, Ron Paul has been savaged, and Mitt Romney has been called everything but a communist. Newt's decision to take on Romney as a "Massachusetts moderate" will likely have only the impact of giving conservative Republicans a reason to be less enthusiastic about Romney should he be the nominee.
Understand that I was in charge of the most recent truly contested Republican primary Newt ran in, admittedly many years ago. Let me put it this way: He is a much better elected leader than he is a campaign manager for his own cause. And he has been attacked viciously.
And virtually every candidate has been part of the bloody trail that has turned into this year's Republican presidential race. Michele Bachmann basically was so blatant in her early attacks that she turned voters off and had a failure to launch. Rick Perry has been rising in the polls, but his assault on his opponents was strong and powerful. And Paul went straight for Gingrich's neck as soon as Gingrich emerged as the leader in the race. Rick Santorum has been no angel, but he may end up coming across that way by the time the caucuses are held in Iowa.
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