"He who slings mud generally loses ground."
- Adlai E. Stevenson, former governor of Illinois and two-time Democratic presidential nominee
As the race for the Republican presidential nomination winds down and Mitt Romney's selection appears inevitable, it is interesting to note how the campaign was won.
It can be summed up very briefly:
Every time a new serious challenger appeared during the primaries, that challenger found himself buried by a barrage of attack ads. The Romney campaign and the political action committees that back his nomination relentlessly ran negative ad after negative ad aimed at whoever the challenger of the week was.
If nothing else, this race for the GOP nomination has disproved the Adlai Stevenson quote printed above. Romney made up ground on every challenger his campaign turned the attack dogs on.
Politicians rely on negative advertising because it works.
There are predictions that both the Democrats and the Republicans will spend around $1 billion on the presidential campaign in 2012. And that does not count the money super PACs supporting each candidate will spend.
Supposedly, the politicians cannot legally coordinate their campaign strategy and advertising with the PACs. However, if one looks closely, the PACs generally have people running them who have worked previously with the candidates.
Every election we are amazed that the public watches these ads and never looks askance at the side running them. Our mothers used to tell us that people who throw mud have dirty hands - but we seem to have forgotten that lesson.
So prepare for the onslaught of a couple of billion dollars worth of mud on your TV screens between now and Nov. 6. The primaries are just a warm-up for what will happen in the general election.
The question that keeps occurring to us, though, is "Do we really want a president who will let his campaign do and say anything about his opponent just to get elected?" Apparently we do - because mudslinging is the method du jour for politics in the U.S.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.