A friend sent me an e-mail yesterday asking me what I thought about U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s letter to Congressman Denny Rehberg asking Rehberg to sign a “Third-Party Advertising Agreement.” The letter asked Rehberg to “publicly reject and work to prevent the broadcast of all third-party radio and TV ads” during their *campaign.
*Tester and Rehberg still have to make it through a primary election before they actually face each other in the General Election. Rehberg has filed to run for U.S. Senate and he has a primary challenger. Tester has yet to file for re-election.
I also heard a rumor that Tester, under separate letter, asked Rehberg to perform at least three miracles before sundown Friday (for those in the media, this was a joke).I replied to my friend that “it was a smart political move by Tester” and now Rehberg is “backed into a corner.” One has to give credit to Jon Tester’s campaign team – it was a very crafty and calculated political move, but it could also be called a gimmick – and it worked. The media bought it, big time, and Tester appears white as snow to anyone who has picked up a newspaper or watched a Montana newscast the last 24 hours.
Reporters covering politics should understand something about politics – like campaigns don’t e-mail information to you that will harm their candidate…
If Rehberg rejects the agreement, then look for several campaign ads to be out before the sun sets (yes, even third-party ads) and the holier-than-thou news media and editorial boards will hound him for several days. But by rejecting the agreement, Rehberg gets the sweet nectar from third-party groups (who are also expressing free speech, which is something editorial boards do almost daily).
Remembering some of their poorly-completed and researched television ads that ran in 2006, Rehberg should probably reject any third-party television ads from the goofballs at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), but that’s just my opinion.
So what is Team Rehberg to do? If I was advising Team Rehberg, I’d tell them to send Tester a message and tell Tester to take his agreement and stick it…in a shredder. Rehberg could also say, “When you stop being the leader in receiving lobbyist donations I’ll sign it,” or “When you pry my pocket Constitution out of my cashmere sport coat…”
Of course, I imagine Rehberg will be nicer than that – it is millionaire speaking to millionaire you know.
The big picture is that Tester has built a sizeable lead in campaign donations and now he’s come up with this wacky idea to give him an advantage. It’s kind of like the kid taking his ball and going home after his team took the lead after the first quarter of a basketball game.
Reporters in Montana and on the East Coast covering this development gave Tester’s publicity stunt a lot of space and airtime yesterday and today. In basic terms, these reporters are what I like to call “suckers” – they took Tester’s bait hook, line, and sinker.
Let’s hope they step up their game as we approach the General Election…
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