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Dems Ignore Blowback Risks in Harsh Rhetoric Barrage


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dems_disregard_blowback_risks_in_harsh_rhetoric_barrage_123864.htmlReal Clear Politics:

It's easy to forget now, but there once was a time when the Democratic Party was accustomed to chastising itself over some candidates' timidity.


But with two months until the midterm elections, visions of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry failing to go on the offensive amid Republican attacks are just distant memories.


This year, the bigger concern for Democrats appears to be that some of their own histrionic broadsides against GOP opponents will trigger a voter backlash.


In three key midterm races over the last few days, Democrats have launched the kind of invective that might have made Lee Atwater blush.


First, it was Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, who began airing a dramatically narrated ad that accused Republican Tom Cotton of being soft on combating the spread of the Ebola virus.


For good measure, the Pryor spot also insinuated that Cotton opposes children’s hospitals.


Not to be outdone, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich on Friday launched his own memorable TV spot, which sought to connect Republican Dan Sullivan to an administrative mishap in the state’s judicial system that led to a convicted felon being released from prison. The felon in question now stands accused of committing a grisly double-murder after his release, but fact-check organizations criticized Begich’s insinuation that Sullivan had anything to do with the case.


Finally, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz drew additional scrutiny to the closely watched Wisconsin governor’s race between Republican incumbent Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke when she said that Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”


As if that image didn’t go far enough, Wasserman Schultz added that Tea Party extremists are “grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.”


The perception that Wasserman Schultz had been wrong to invoke violence against women to make a political point was clear almost immediately after her comments were published. Burke’s press secretary told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "That's not the type of language that Mary Burke would use, or has used, to point out the clear differences in this contest.”


Back in Alaska, Begich pulled his provocative ad after the victims’ family protested its use, but he did so only after his campaign had spent several days in a fruitless back-and-forth with the Sullivan camp over the ad’s propriety.


In the meantime, national Republicans are seizing upon these recent incidents, eager to portray them as emblematic of a sinking Democratic ship heading into midterm waters.


“Democrats are clearly desperate,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski. “They are reading the same polling we are that shows wide disapproval of Obama and his policies that all of these Democrat candidates have spent years pushing.”



Damn the blowback, full self-destruction ahead!

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