There’s a danger in hitting back against wild, unsubstantiated accusations. Do it wrong, and you can end up bringing more attention to the initial smear, i.e. “Congressman Denies Beating His Wife.” But American Crossroads hits the right notes in its latest ad, contrasting the honorable rhetoric of 2008-Obama with the mud-slinging in the Priorities USA steelworker ad. The powerful audio at the end is a great touch (former White House counsel John Dean speaking on the Nixon White House tapes in 1973, informs Mike Allen):
The Romney campaign is also increasing pressure on the Obama camp to denounce the ad. In an interview with Bill Bennett yesterday, Romney tore into the president’s campaign:
Romney said in a radio interview that the ad was “wrong and inaccurate” and that the Obama campaign should be “embarrassed” the super-PAC, Priorities USA, is standing by the ad.
“You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney said on Bill Bennett’s radio show. “They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact-checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.”
Frankly, it’s interesting that the Obama campaign hasn’t issued a clear condemnation of the ad yet. Is it because he’s worried about hurting Priorities USA’s fundraising if he speaks out against them too harshly? Wealthy Democrats have already been reluctant to give to super PACs, which was why Obama publicly endorsed Priorities USA in the first place — to let donors know this group was approved by the most principled campaigner ever. If he now denounces the super PAC for running slimy and dishonest ads, that could seriously handicap Priorities for the rest of the season.