What's Fair and What's Negative?
At T-minus 21 days, state GOP Chair Carole Jean Jordan issued a statement praising the "positive" tone of the Crist-Gallagher primary. It has been the least divisive race in memory. But Tom Gallagher is now getting a little volunteer help from consultant Mike Murphy, an admaker not known for warm 'n' fuzzy TV spots.
Needless to say, at Camp Crist there's some nervousness about how Murphy's presence might change the Gallagher message. Three weeks out, it's a good time to ask: What's the difference between an issue-based comparison and a negative attack?
Gallagher has been passing out a leaflet designed to show that on key issues, he and Jeb Bush are on the same page and Crist is elsewhere. The piece shows three columns (Bush, Gallagher, Crist) and compares them on key issues, calling Crist "a lawyer" (true) who said "gay civil unions are fine" (also true), and who did not intervene in the Broward County slot-machine lawsuit (true again).
Another example: On "reducing the number of abortions in Florida, Jeb Bush is pro-life. Tom Gallagher is pro-life. Charlie Crist voted pro-choice ... Crist opposes a 24-hour waiting period." (Crist did, in a Senate vote in '1995, and that's still his position).
On offshore drilling, the Gallagher piece notes that Gallagher backed Bush's effort to secure a "permanent moratorium" around Florida, and Crist "sided with (Democrat) Jim Davis" without explaining what Crist's position was, inferring that Crist favors drilling. But he doesn't. He has opposed any drilling, including the 125-mile perimeter favored by Gallagher and Bush.
Gallagher's campaign says the drilling comparison has been edited and shortened from a more recent version of the flyer and "more salient topics" such as stem cell research have been added. But the words quoted above were on a flyer that was being distributed at the Florida League of Cities convention last Friday in Jacksonville.