Yesterday during an interview with WCSH, U.S. Senate candidate independent Angus King appeared to say he is backing off his pledge to stay positive in this campaign. His exact words were, “We are going to come back and draw the distinctions between Charlie Summers and myself.”
“Drawing a distinction” can really only mean one thing: “Here’s what he believes. Here’s what I believe.” As soon as you start talking about someone else’s record, you have gone negative (since I assume he won’t be bringing up a bunch of Charlie’s positives). See 2:08 in the clip below:
Later, in an email message to supporters from his wife Mary Herman, she wrote, “Charlie Summers claims he ‘wants to talk about the issues,’ but his out-of-state allies are pouring in millions of dollars trying to tear my husband down with lies and distortions.”
It’s not a surprise that King would back off this early pledge, nor is it a mistake for him to take this path. Drawing contrasts between candidates is an important part of our decision-making process. Now that his lead is down to possibly eight points, he has to change the course of his campaign, or he will continue sinking.
Probably his only mistake was saying early on that he wouldn’t go down this road. But that was when he had a 30-point lead and thought he’d win with more than 50-percent support.
Due to the mistake of making that pledge and now having to reverse course, King will have a little damage control to tend to. Here’s what I suggest he say:
“Fellow Mainers, when I started this campaign I had hoped to stay above the fray and avoid any negative attacks. Indeed I challenged all my opponents and their allies to do the same. Unfortunately, they did not take me up on this challenge. Now I must defend myself and make it clear where my positions are different from my opponents. That said, if I am privileged enough to win this seat, I can assure you that when I get to Washington, I will do everything in my power to end this ugly side of politics. I will support the DISCLOSE Act to end anonymity in these political attacks. I will fight to reverse the Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling that has polluted our airwaves, and I will promote the kind of public financing system that has worked so well to protect our politics in Maine.”
The above helps in two ways. First, it makes clear why he made this decision to reverse course. Second, it begins to deal with my biggest criticism of his campaign: that he has not been specific about what exactly he will do when in Washington.
Posted by Ethan Strimling