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Chan Lowe: Romney wins ugly in the Florida primary


It’s obvious what Mitt Romney’s advisers decided to do in Florida. In order to prevent fatal wounding by a thousand cuts over a period of months, they elected to win quick and, if necessary, to win dirty. Yes, in the short run, those suffering the nine-day scorched-earth lead-in to the Florida primary might conclude that Romney was, as Newt put it, ruthlessly “carpet-bombing” with negative ads and presenting nothing positive about his own vision for America. But negative advertising has been proven over and over again to work, even though voters claim to dislike it. By November, general election voters wouldn’t even recall the Florida ugliness, so went the reasoning.

With attackers from his own party out of the way, Romney would have the luxury of attacking only President Obama (always a crowd pleaser), and unveiling his own rationale for wanting to be president (we’re still waiting).

Romney’s people weren’t counting on the durability of Newt’s rage. Had Romney won in an honest, clean way, Newt might have gracefully folded his tent and offered his support in exchange for a juicy cabinet post. But they also knew that Romney’s support was so lukewarm that he ran a high risk of losing unless he went nasty.

Had they studied their history, Romney’s advisers would remember that they were dealing with a man who became so miffed at being seated in the back of Bill Clinton’s Air Force One that he shut down the country in retaliation. They kicked him too hard and too often, and now he’s going to worry at Romney’s heels like a rabid terrier all the way to the Tampa convention, and maybe beyond.

This primary reminds me of one of the Godfather movies, when Michael Corleone visits the village of his father’s birth in Sicily for the first time. He notices that there are only women to be seen in the town. “Where are all the men?” he asks his guide.

“All dead from vendettas,” the guide answers.

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Yes indeed, negative campaigning "works". The major effect is to drive voters away from the polls (and, surprise!, turnout went from 51% in the 2008 primary to 41% in this one). That leaves you with fewer voters to manipulate into voting for you.

Of course, armed thugs surrounding polling places also "works", with only the slight difference that the armed thugs might be found illegal (unless, of course, the NRA supported the candidate paying the thugs).

And what about that quote from the Bible, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? Gingrich was doing exactly the same. I suppose Romney did it better (worse?)

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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