If desperation is a stinky cologne, the campaign of Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) is truly beginning to reek.
Ten days ago, Smith unveiled two vicious attack ads in his race against Democrat Jeff Merkley, an arms control expert endorsed by Council for a Livable World. The ads accuse Merkley of not being tough enough on rapists.
Watch the ads for yourself after the jump.
These ads are reminiscent of the ‘Willie Horton’ ad that helped destroy Governor Michael Dukakis’s campaign for President in 1988. I hate to dredge up bad memories, but if you haven’t watched this despicable ad in awhile, or if you’ve never seen it, you absolutely must watch it:
The style of Smith’s ads is bad enough, but they are also completely misleading and deceptive. The crime mentioned in Smith’s ad occurred 13 years before Merkley even entered politics. And while Smith slanders Merkley for opposing the extension of the statute of limitations for sex crimes, Merkley actually supports such an extension and voted in support of such a bill back in 2001 and 2005. Merkley also supports mandatory life sentences for serial sex offenders.
You’ll be glad to know that the Merkley campaign struck back against Smith’s Rovian assault immediately. Here are Merkley’s two response ads:
With accusations flying back and forth, it is tough to see the forest for the trees. Luckily, nonpartisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg assessed the Oregon fracas in his Roll Call column on September 22 (subscription only). “The Smith ads…are striking many observers as the sort of late-October ad that a campaign might use as a game-changer, not the kind of TV spot that a confident incumbent would run in mid-September,” Rothenberg wrote. “The Republican clearly is in serious trouble.”