Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Haley Campaign still shooting at Barrett and more
There is a reason for that. Now is not the time for Haley to attack McMaster. He is safe for the runoff unless South Carolina voters issue a huge upset on primary day. Bauer, on the other hand, is to most old hands in Columbia, done. Thus, Haley continues to run a "positive" campaign that attacks Gresham Barrett nearly every day.
Haley and her camp perhaps have a point about Barrett's bank bailout vote. But, they dilute their legitimate shots by not shooting straight. The Haley camp's latest attack on Barrett is his support of a bill that includes a Value Added Tax. The Haley camp makes Barrett's support as some support of big government only. But, if you look carefully at the measure, one finds that it imposes a Value Added Tax on goods from countries that place such taxes on United States goods. In other words, it is a fair trade idea, not a tax increase idea.
Now, if the Haley camp is against a fairer playing field for American products in competition with foreign goods, let them shoot us straight and come out and argue that point.
The language and the tactics of the Haley campaign are similar to the Sanford campaign of 2002. Barrett will be angry by the fuzzy details of Haley's attacks, but if he attacks back, he will be quickly labeled as negative. Ask Bob Peeler how that ole play by the Sanford folks works.
We at VUI call that campaign approach the "positive attack" campaign. Here is how it works. A candidate, like Haley, talks up issues and about how things should be open and honest. Then, the candidate attacks their chief opponent in a way that plays fast and loose with the details. That is meant to get the chief opponent angry. It is meant to get the candidate and their camp thinking, "here's this candidate who says she is for openness and honesty who won't be honest about my record in her campaign." That anger turns into attacks back. Those attacks back are deflected, either by the "awe shucks, folks, I am just trying to be honest" approach of Sanford in 2002 or the "we are trying to make government more open" approach of Haley in 2010. By having already defined themselves to lofty platitudes, a candidate like Sanford or Haley feeds off of negative hits by their opponents, even when those opponents are just trying to set the record straight.
For the above type campaign to work, the campaign has to have a likable candidate. In 2002, Mark Sanford and his card tables at grocery stores made him seem like the earnest guy down the street. Nikki Haley comes across as the crusading soccer mom. Democrats traditionally like that approach, but in South Carolina this year, that perception is owned by Nikki Haley.
That fact, and the tactics of her campaign, make her still dangerous. If Haley gets in the runoff, she will be a very problematic opponent for the McMaster people. VUI believes that the McMaster camp will be tempted to pull the trigger on a negative campaign against Haley if numbers shift. When they do, Haley could feed off those numbers and win the nomination. One pundit dubbed Haley "Sanford in a skirt," and when it comes to campaign tactics, that pundit could be right. But, remember, Sanford won.