A rather curious pair of developments this evening.
First, this John Bel Edwards ad – not from the Democrat Governors’ Association, Gumbo PAC or the Edwards-affiliated Families First PAC, but the actual Edwards campaign – will make its debut during the LSU-Alabama game on what we understand is a statewide buy…
And then there’s a post by the controversial Jason Berry at his blog making a rather peculiar set of inferences leading toward David Vitter apparently murdering, or being an accessory to murder, or some other such nefarious conduct toward, a hooker who died on a boat in Mississippi in 1996 and having that covered up by the same oil company hired to drill a well via hydraulic fracturing in St. Tammany Parish earlier this year. As Berry has in the past admitted he gets some large part of his material from “opposition researchers,” one struggles not to suspect precisely who’s behind his latest offering.
The ad, which Chuck Todd apparently has called the most aggressive negative ad ever run against Vitter, seems like a major gamble. It certainly will provide joy to Edwards’ hard-core supporters. But when women see it, how many will immediately think of how Wendy or Vitter’s children would feel seeing it and be turned off? It’s possible the answer will be a good many.
Edwards’ narrative is that Vitter is the dirty campaigner and the liar while he went to West Point and lives by a code of honor, but none of Vitter’s ads have been anywhere near this nasty. If John Bel is doing the nastiest ads on TV, how can he be the good guy?
That probably drives away the persuadables. And if Vitter keeps plugging away at the ideological and issues material, he can close with “I haven’t attacked his character, and attacking mine is all he’s done. Instead I’ve sought to show that he won’t govern according to the principles we agree on, because I’m confident you’ll recognize we can’t go back to that.” And that might result in Vitter coming off as the more dignified candidate of the two.
If he really thought he was ahead, would Edwards have taken a gamble like this?
It actually gives a plausible explanation for why Vitter would have Frenzel snooping around Berry and his connection to Edwards and his friends. Because almost nobody will believe Vitter kills hookers, but everybody will understand why he wants to protect himself against people who would make that charge publicly just to win an election.
And on behalf of Vitter’s camp, St. Tammany Republican Party stalwart Evans Spiceland (a retired Army Colonel, and co-chairman of Veterans for Vitter), put out a statement that might well resonate: “As a veteran, I think it’s disgusting that John Bel Edwards is using veteran’s grave stones in a gutter political attack ad. This is a disgrace to those of us who actually live by the honor code.”