I'm Running a Positive Campaign, You Dope

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 22 2011 10:56 AM

I'm Running a Positive Campaign, You Dope

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Conn Carroll twists the knife slowly into Jon Huntsman's ballyhooed/abandoned promise to run a positive campaign. You remember: "The American public in today’s world is dramatically in need of serious debate, and I don’t think they feel there’s a lot of bandwidth left for personal attacks." Carroll points out that the jibes Huntsman had for his fellow Republican candidates were actually pretty negative -- the DNC's using them to make their own case!

I think Carroll missed one. In his ABC News interview, Huntsman was asked about how Michele Bachmann responded to the debt deal. He used the answer to pivot to Barack Obama.

He should have walked away from the teleprompter. The people want you to speak from your heart and soul.
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Most of Huntsman's attacks on other candidates are policy-based, not personality-based. The way the "pledge" (which wasn't really binding) was described to me, Huntsman was eschewing the petty, Obamaney-care type stuff -- personal, substance-less attacks. But a teleprompter jab? Huntsman has to know that he's dog-whistling to conservatives who think Obama's use of the teleprompter is proof that he's at best an empty suit, at worst a shadow candidate that a lazy media puffed up and foisted on the electorate.

Generally speaking, I welcome Huntsman's post-pledge persona. There's no real evidence that critiquing the GOP from the center will win him anything, but it's an effective late summer stimulus package for political reporters.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.