Spotlight

Liar, Liar

NEW ORLEANS - MAY 3: Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu shakes hands with a supporter during a swearing in ceremony for her brother Mitchell Landrieu, who is now Mayor of New Orleans May 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mayor Landrieu is inheriting a host of disaster related issues from Hurricane Katrina and the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as he takes over for Mayor Ray Nagin.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
Jan. 3, 2014, 6:45 a.m.

As the elec­tion year be­gins, Re­pub­lic­ans are pon­der­ing how best to ex­ploit Obama­care’s troubles. And they think they’ve found an an­swer: At­tack Demo­crats’ cred­ib­il­ity. Law­makers who prom­ised, wrongly, that every­one could keep their ex­ist­ing health in­sur­ance plans are about to watch their own words thrown back in their face.

— The latest ex­ample came Thursday, when Amer­ic­ans for Prosper­ity (whose early rampant spend­ing in Sen­ate races has turned in­to a real head­ache for Demo­crats) launched a sev­en-fig­ure ad buy tar­get­ing Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The spots, two of which de­ploy video clips of the in­cum­bents say­ing every­one can keep their health in­sur­ance, were dir­ect: The sen­at­ors are li­ars.

— The strategy here is to take a single is­sue — Obama­care — to launch a broad­er cri­tique of Demo­crat­ic law­makers. It’s of­ten said that most voters, cer­tainly those closer to the polit­ic­al middle, don’t make their de­cision based on just one is­sue. But they do cast their vote based on char­ac­ter, and few flaws are more dev­ast­at­ing for an in­cum­bent than the be­lief they’re not telling the truth.

— Some Demo­crats, like Landrieu, have already re­spon­ded dir­ectly to this charge. Don’t be sur­prised to see more of the same from her col­leagues and groups like Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity PAC: Demo­crats are con­vinced they can’t let Re­pub­lic­ans runs these kinds of ads without a strong, well-fun­ded re­sponse.

Ex­pect to hear GOP op­er­at­ives use the word “cred­ib­il­ity” a lot more between now and Elec­tion Day. Voters care about health care, but char­ac­ter counts, too.

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