Campaign ads take a turn for the nasty

September 28, 2012

We're now just more than five weeks from Election Day, which means it's time to bring out the big guns.

And by the big guns, we mean the nasty ads.

The Fix's Sean Sullivan today noted a particularly stark ad in the North Carolina governor's race in which African-Americans say that Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory doesn't understand them.

Here are a few more that caught our attention in recent days:

In Florida, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is out with a new ad that focuses on one day in 2003 when West, a former Army lieutenant colonel, was getting his deployment orders and his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy, was getting arrested after a bar fight.

The ad even features Murphy's mug shot juxtaposed with an official photo of West.

In the Massachusetts Senate race, Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) campaign just launched its second ad in one week hitting Democrat Elizabeth Warren over her claims to Native American heritage and suggesting she "got caught" in a lie. (Warren's response ad accuses Brown of "attacking my family.")

In the Ohio Senate race, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is up with a new ad accusing state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) of hiring "unqualified cronies" after being elected to his current post in 2010. The ad features pictures of fresh-faced (read: young) aides and says Mandel is "a politician you can't trust."

And even Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who appears relatively safe this year, is up with an ad hitting his Republican opponent, Dave Spence, for running a bank whose board he sat on "into the ground" and taking out an "insider loan" for a million-dollar vacation home even as the bank didn't pay back money it received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout.

Now, it's true, these are hardly the first strongly negative ads of the 2012 campaign -- we've seen them for a while in the presidential race and from super PACs (Joe Soptic, anyone?) -- but it's become clear in recent days that individual House, Senate and governor campaigns are ratcheting up their rhetoric and wielding some of their best attacks on their opponents. And you can't always rely on outside groups to do your dirty work for you.

Expect to see many more like these in the weeks ahead.

Notice any that we missed? The comments section awaits...

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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