The Self Made Pundit
Monday, October 28, 2002
STUPID COP, BAD COP: While more fainthearted politicians might have hesitated to resume negative campaigning within 48 hours of Senator Paul Wellstone’s death in a plane crash, the Washington Post reports that Republicans are already attacking former Vice President Mondale, the Democrats’ likely replacement in the Minnesota Senate race.
Showing that he has lost none of his touch for unintentional irony, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA.) told NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday:
"I think that what you'll see on the Republican side is an issue-oriented campaign that says, you know, if you want to raise your retirement age dramatically and privatize Social Security, Walter Mondale is a terrifically courageous guy to say that," Gingrich said.
Launching negative attacks on Mondale before Wellstone is even buried is not only offensive, it is downright stupid politically. Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman obviously hopes he can avoid responsibility for these attacks. As the Post notes:
Political operatives said they expect Coleman to use a good-cop, bad-cop strategy, with state and national GOP leaders picking apart Mondale's record while Coleman focuses mostly on a more positive campaign centered on his agenda.
I think Coleman’s approach is more likely to turn out to be a stupid-cop, bad -cop strategy since in this compressed one-week campaign, voters are likely to view all Republican attacks against Mondale as coming out of the Coleman campaign. Attacks against Wellstone’s likely replacement will probably remind voters of the harshly negative campaign Coleman had been running against Wellstone, even if the assaults have now been delegated to surrogates. Voters are more likely to be offended than persuaded by new assaults that are practically interrupting memorial services for Wellstone.
Since Republicans seem to be handling this tragic situation with all the finesse they showed when Senator Robert Torricelli dropped out of the Senate race in New Jersey and they fought in court to effectively give voters a one-party election, the Democrats now seem assured of retaining both the Minnesota Senate seat and control of the Senate.