November 30th, 2007
11:00 AM ET
15 years ago

Operatives gear up for below-the-belt sucker punches

The infamous Willie Horton ad was devastating to the 1988 Michael Dukakis campaign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sucker punches and below-the-belts can be expected as we enter the slugfest season of political attack ads. They're already taking off the gloves for what promises to be nasty 2008 campaigns that use the newfound enormous strength and reach of the Web.

"If I'm going to get punched in the stomach, I'm going to take a knife out and get you right back," said John Lapp of the consulting firm McMahon, Squier, Lapp and Associates.

Lapp considers himself one of a new breed of Democratic ad-makers who don't hesitate to hit hard in the ad war.

"I'm going to use every single weapon I have in my quiver."

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Filed under: Political ads
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. pam Eugene OR

    It is a voter turn off to see this and probably will keep some people from voting. I hope my choice is above this.
    Obama 08

    November 30, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Claudette, TX

    I love to watch the attack ads. It is the only real time you see the true metal of the candidates. It is a lot like watching football. Offense and defense...who will score the winning points.


    November 30, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Rafi, NY NY

    It's disgusting that after acknowledging these tactics as below-the-belt, negative sucker punches, these people then say they have no problem doing it. They're saying that, yes, I understand this will have a bad long-term consequence, but in the short-term it helps my candidate so I don't care.

    It's also disingenuous to say Americans should know the bad along with the good. That's only true if the bad isn't misleading or flat-out false, which it almost always is in campaign ads. If they were only running truthful ads that highlighted an opponent's flaws, I'd have no problem with it.

    How much more irresponsible could they be?

    November 30, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Chris, Middletown, CT

    With the Democrats...they will even use made up "facts" – aka...rhetoric....I see alot of bloggers parroting this...they rely on their base of supporters to never ever ask the question..."prove it" – they blame Bush for high oil prices...yet...they don't seem to realize that oil is traded on the comodity market internationally....a sad day when we start to accept the "if someone typed must be true" – look up Saul Alinsky....see where Hillarys entitlement programs are Marxism

    November 30, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. Rick, Eugene OR

    Let's start by getting facts and sayings straight. Weapons aren't kept in quivers. Arrows are.
    I hope this is not the sign of the "best the Democrats can do."

    November 30, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Mike - Memphis, TN

    Sucker punches like CNN having Hillary's people as "guest questioners" at the GOP debate?

    November 30, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |

    Chris, Middletown, CT

    also chris tell me something else the republicans spent how much to determine if clinton was cheating on his wife by kenneth starr??? how much money was that again? repubs actually pushed for impeachment when not one death occurred do to clintons mistake but thousands have been killed by bush's mistake and no word of impeachment. dont even talk about FACTS like republicans are so HOLY. i believe repubicans brought the whole mudslinging to a new level. they actually got away with calling john kerry a coward after he served and save others in vietnam and made bush look like a hero when he spent a couple of days in the national reserve during VIETNAM in other words DRAFT DODGING!!!!!!!! republicans dont do facts

    November 30, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Greg, Milwaukee, WI

    "If I'm going to get punched in the stomach, I'm going to take a knife out and get you right back", says Lapp.

    What's wrong with this guy? Did he think before he told a reporter something this stupid?

    It's no wonder NORMAL Americans don't vote for Democratics anymore!

    November 30, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    It's about time democrats respond to the scum sucking republican tactics. There is no denying that they suceeded in polarizing the country by declaring jihad against "liberuhls". Now that the die is cast, the only way to solve this is to defeat and marginalize them until they become a small regional or southern party where their backwardness and appeals to racism and fear have a natural base.

    November 30, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Joe Bellefonte PA

    This is all about to get very ugly and it could tear our country apart. It is disgraceful that ugliness will decide our elections rather than a sane discussion of the issues.

    November 30, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Patty, somewhere

    It's about time the democrats decide to play fair with fair. Dirty ads against them in previous elections have been fairly unanswered. Just look at republican ads having Max Cleland side by side with BinLadden, Fox News referring to Obama as Ossama, or the lies of the Swiftboaters that got more coverage than those trying to debunk them, or the ads against Ford with the implicated hired ladies. I just read that same ad creator had been rehired by the republicans again. These disgusting pieces of smut on the airwaves will quickly fade out if they do not get talked about ad nauseum by the media thereby almost tripling the coverage they get for a small amount of ad buy time or when uniformed people who should know better and be more informed of their political surroundings stop taking them as the gospel truth.

    November 30, 2007 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. Don Longmont, CO

    I agree that it is sad to see that this type of campaigning works. We have seen that attack ads worked in putting Bush back in office. I would like to see ads addressing the critical issues facing this nation but it just doesn't work in todays world.
    This type of campaigning works so the Democrats need to prepare to fight in the trenchs as you never know what the Republicans will distort in their efforts to stay in power. When they attacked veterans who served this great nation to discredit them they will stop at nothing.

    All is fair in love and war and this is war baby!

    November 30, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  13. Sonja San Francisco CA

    Now that's pathetic. Gonna git a knife out... Dear God, please preserve us.

    December 1, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  14. Frank Virginia Beach VA

    Lapp sounds like a real macho kinda guy, ya know. Just haul that 'ole knife out an letum have it, huh?

    December 1, 2007 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  15. mark wilkes barre pa

    history repeats,, Clinton Was impeached,,, do you get that ,,HE WAS IMPEACHED,,,, but thats not the issue here. Hitting below the belt, sucker punching is, wrong way to help some one get elected. this sort of attitude in america is beneath most of us and is a turn off for voters

    December 1, 2007 06:12 am at 6:12 am |

    mark wilkes barre pa

    his impeachment was thrown out and the fact is that he should not have been impeached!!! especially compared to what this moron of a president has done. do you think that because he was impeached it was justified???? the republicans wanted to discredit the democrats as much as possible before the next elections and they did and then an idiot like GEORGE BUSH got elcted well actually he didnt get elected he actually LOST the popular vote but still was aloud to lead this country. if you try and tell me this whole thing wasnt planned out your nuts. clinton did alot of good for this nation and all he is remembered for is an affair. so next election they go for the bush and leave GORE in the dust and i think we all know that if gore was the president today this country would've been so much stronger. but that is what has happened the republicans yell about non-issues and sling mud using slick AD-MEN and take americans focus off what really matters and steamroll and election its about time democrats fought fire with fire. but dont blame the dems they have to fight to get this country back on track!!!!

    December 1, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |

    mark wilkes barre pa

    also mark it is not below MOST OF US. its below me...i dont listen to the mud slinging i check out the presidential candidate fully i see what theyve done and havent done in the past. but MOST americans dont do that. they watch TV and listen to the mud slinging! and since MOST people do that and that is the majority of the voters then the dems have to do what they have to do to win. regardless of what some of us like or dont like!!!

    December 1, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. PW Va

    IMMIGRATION...the "Willie Horton" ad campaign for the 2008 presidential race and the Republicans will harp on it with every fiber of their beings. Why??? 'Cause they have nothing else to offer. Wise up, American voters... don't allow these guys to pit one American against another by using this particular "race" card to muddy the real issues such as...ending the Iraq conflict and bringing our troops home, health care, tax relief, social security, stablizing our economy and a myriad of other issues that every day Americans are confronted with.

    December 1, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. mark wilkes barre pa

    history repeats,,, my comment to you stands he was impeached,, what do you want me to say he wasnt ? and bush Was elected not by the popular vote but the right way,, the electorial vote. I guess you want me to say he wasn't elected either ? WOW !! I will say sorry now in case im wrong about what I am going to say but, aren't you ranting un documented rederick during the whole second half of your first comment back to me ???

    December 1, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. history repeats

    un documented rederick would be more like your paragraph. you basically repeat yourelf repeating me. the talking about the "first half of my second comment back" i dont even know what your talking about. some americans dont listen to the mudslinging but most do its obvious because we re-elected somebody that after hearing america was under attack he sat in a kindegarden classroom for 7 minutes without getting up!! people look at him as a hero because he stood with a bullhorn at 9/11. im sorry but isnt that what he was SUPPOSED to do?? but this is the mentality of america they act as though they are watching a movie. he has a bullhorn at 9/11 hes a hero...they'll even replay it in slow motion with music playing to further the point. and america eats it up. thats why unfortunately you HAVE to mudsling back because if you dont then you lose the "impressionable" vote and that covers a BIG and mostly RELIGOUS majority of followers.....see thats relevant you just waisted your paragraph on how i said what i said. just like a true republican avoid the issue at hand and try to insult the speaker.......nice try though

    December 2, 2007 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  21. Bud Spurlock

    How about just staying on point and discussing things that really matter, like budget, helthcare, welfare reform, and god forbid the war in Iraq. I think all these slanderous campain ads are just a distraction to prevent them from having to speak up about the real issues. How about some straight talk for once, this who I am and this is my plan for the country as your president no BS political promises just true statements. Anyone who promises you anything as a presidental candidate other than to do their best to serve you is blown smoke, and anyone who believes we can build new schools or highways without tax hikes needs to take a closer look, thats not to say I think they should raise taxes. I am sure if we took a good look at things and did away with some of these crazy money grabbing scemes from congress we would be doing just fine.

    January 14, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |