The mid-term elections of 2006 brought an unprecedented barrage of advertising containing much that is false or misleading.
GOP Rep. John Sweeney’s ad goes after his opponent, first-time House candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, with a half-dozen accusations layered over a soundtrack that’s somehow both scary and sad. The ad tars Gillibrand with everything from taking illegal contributions to hiring a consultant tied to the Abramoff lobbying scandal to making children cry at a Sweeney rally, and more.
Gauging by the attack ads flowing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s House contenders are running against Exxon, Pfizer and Bush. The ads tie Republican House candidates to unpopular industries and an unpopular President. Some of these ads are exaggerations.
Two of the most recent ads being aired in New Jersey by Republican Tom Kean Jr. and the NRSC stick to the recipe the Republicans have been using all season against Sen. Robert Menendez: Show the Democratic incumbent as sleazy, corrupt and possibly a criminal.
Both political parties are functioning in the 2006 House races as factories for attack ads, but the National Republican Campaign Committee’s work stands out this year for the sheer volume of assaults on the personal character of Democratic House challengers.
In half a dozen ads, Democrats accuse a number of GOP House incumbents of voting repeatedly to “raid the Social Security Trust Fund.” That line was bunk when Republicans used it against Democratic candidates in the past, and it’s bunk now.
Well over a dozen Democratic ads claim incumbent GOP lawmakers voted against benefits and funding for the nation’s military.
Republican Rep. Ron Lewis of Kentucky attacks his opponent, retired Army Col. Mike Weaver, with an ad saying the Democrat is “not fit for duty in Congress” because of a National Guard pay-for-promotion scandal that goes back 14 years.
In four separate TV spots Republican Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri falsely attributes several unflattering quotes about his opponent to the Kansas City Star.
The Republican National Committee’s latest ad – a 2006 version of President Johnson’s famous 1964 “Daisy” commercial against Barry Goldwater – invokes the threat of a nuclear attack by al Qaeda.