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As McCain Goes Negative, a GOP Senator Makes a Positive Turn


Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) speaks before the start of a McCain-Palin rally at the Key Air Hangar at the Anoka County Blaine Airport in Blaine, Minne., Sept. 19, 2008. (Eric Miller/Reuters)

Updated 7:37 p.m.
By Peter Slevin
CHICAGO -- Falling behind in a sheaf of polls amid one of the nastiest campaigns in the country, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) announced today that he will unilaterally disarm: He will pull his negative advertising and urge his supporters to do the same.

At a St. Paul press conference, the onetime Democrat-turned-Republican sounded as though he was channeling Sen. Barack Obama, who has taken a strong lead in Minnesota polls. Coleman said he would change his tactics and his tone, traveling the state "to connect with people and let them know there's hope."

"At times like this, politics should not add to negativity -- it should lift people up with hope and a confident vision for the future," Coleman said in prepared remarks. "And second, I decided that I was not all that interested in returning to Washington for six years based on the judgment of voters that I was not as bad as the other two guys."

The other two guys are Democratic comedian Al Franken and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley. Three recent polls show Franken taking his first lead after trailing, sometimes badly. The numbers ranged from a 43 - 34 - 18 split in a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll released last week to 41 - 37 - 14 in a Minnesota Public Radio/Humphrey Institute sounding released Wednesday.

This week's poll attributed the sharp reversal in Coleman's numbers -- he had been 9 points ahead of Franken -- to the economy.

Coleman's move also comes at a time when reporters are questioning the first-term senator's relationship with donors and other supporters.

A YouTube video of his press secretary refusing to say whether a supporter gave free suits to Coleman had been viewed more than 130,000 times at last count. My inimitable colleague Chris "The Fix" Cillizza called it perhaps "the most awkward press conference in the history of politics."

The decision to pull the negative ads comes as the McCain-Palin camp and the Republican National Committee are going the other direction, slamming Obama in a barrage of increasingly personal attacks that are being met with war cries from McCain's supporters.

Coleman told reporters that he would not be appearing at a planned rally with McCain this afternoon. Could it be McCain's sliding polling numbers in Minnesota? His attacks on Obama? Coleman said he needs the time to work on suspending his own negative ads.

"Today," he said, "people need hope and a more positive campaign is a start."

The Franken campaign was unimpressed.

"Given that this week's polls are clearly showing that Minnesotans are sick of Norm Coleman's campaign of character assassination, today's stunt rings as a cynical ploy designed to change the subject and avoid scrutiny of his own record," said Andy Barr, Franken's communications director.

"It's like an arsonist burning down every house in the village and asking to be named fire chief."

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 10, 2008; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Battlegrounds , John McCain  
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Comments

There's such a huge difference between avoiding negativity because it is an intrinsic part of one's belief system, and announcing that you will be posing as a candidate of integrity because smears aren't working in the polls. And Coleman doesn't even realize it. Pathetic.

Posted by: freelyb | October 11, 2008 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Whatever his reasons are, better late than never.At least it gives people time to get heal and repaint the nasty image into a nicer picture.

Posted by: puredemo | October 10, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if Coleman is being cynical or strategic. If you're going to lose, lose with class. McCain is making a mockery, or worse, of himself and the country he claims to love.

Posted by: dccamp68 | October 10, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Franken also had some pretty funny ads which mocked Coleman's attack ads. "Al Franken made this ship sink! Al Franken made these trains crash! Al Franken hates puppies!"

Posted by: pdech | October 10, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Toritto - sans commentaire ... "contributions" grade-school & boringly negative.

What does McCain want. Walks like a refrigerator, stiff. Left side of jaw looks broken. Missing (back) teeth & front hair. His wife, Cindy, a beer-delivery company heiress. Have 7-8 residences (no, not homes) & drive 13 different quality cars, separately one supposes.

Yet, it's not enough. This elderly battle-oriented gray suit somehow wants to inspire US youth? Breschnew, son of a metal worker, much like McCain in comportment, never did (in the then already dying USSR). He also like, like McCain, loved watching military parades. But who remembers him today, who recalls him fondly?

McCain's angry about something. Smoldering temper just beneath the surface. These types are the absolute worst leaders. Once in power, their meanness establishes itself. And how far would he go?

Instead of two wars that the US is painfully losing, while losing its last t-shirt at home, McCain would add how many more wars ... to make the world what? A better place to live in at the ripe age of +72 years? And if he, the President, departs at 73 or 74, McCain's convinced leaving Gov. Palin in charge of 300 million Americans is clear thinking.

Nothing adds up. Whichever perspective you select, Republican math is all asymmetrical & wrong.

Posted by: hchiba | October 10, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Al Franken had a radio show for several years, if you can't dig up a nugget of difference over issues from that I don't know what is left. Pulling the negative attack ads will help people stop thinking your a bully but I doubt Coleman is going to win the election since the economics of America are once more leaning to the liberal candidates.

The fact that McCain/Palin are taking a massive nosedive and instead of fighting over policies they are fighting Obama's so-called "friends" is just another sign that the McCain/Palin ride to victory is over. But in 3 weeks I guess anything could happen, though I suspect that Palin will not be governor of Alaska in 3 months either way.

Also, who in their right mind would select Huckabee? The man couldn't carry any states but the middle row of red and the deep south. The Southwest and upper Midwest would be in the blue so deep it wouldn't even be funny. Huckabee is a nice man I am sure, but his policies are so far dug into the religious right that winning would be a miracle that not even a God could pull off.

Posted by: xeranar | October 10, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Unilaterally disarm?? More like a desperate change of tactics in the face of declining polls. He's rightly concerned that he's going to be washed out of office by the biggest wave of anti-Republican voter anger since LBJ. Maybe he should denounce McCains McCarthy-like attacks on people (cue scary music) associated with Obama !!

01/20/09
End of an Error!

Posted by: thebobbob | October 10, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Why would America REWARD complete Republican failure ?

We wont.

Posted by: PulSamsara | October 10, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I watched the news showing McCain’s interview on Fox being televised on CNN, FOX, and other networks. In the interview McCain said he wanted Obama to come out with the truth about Ayers so the public can decide. Why isn’t anyone calling out McCain on his hypocrisy on TROOPERGATE? He asks for public truth from Obama, yet he sends his lawyers to Alaska to cover up TROOPERGATE to avoid public scrutiny. Why doesn’t McCain let Palin testify about her TROOPERATE connection so the American Public can decide – the same standard he wants to apply to Obama. Do you smell hypocrisy?

I don’t want to hear this excuse that TROOPERGATE is politically motivated and that the AYERS connection isn’t. Palin was in office as a government official during TROOPERGATE while Obama was eight years old when Ayers did his despicable act. You tell me which has more validity in applying a standard of judgment -- a person governing when the act was being committed or a person who was eight years old when someone else committed the act?

If judgment is what McCain is questioning about Obama, shouldn’t the American pubic question McCain’s judgment for picking a VP that may be using her powers for personal reasons? Sounds like Bush/Chaney tactic to twist the law to protect them elves and those they surround themselves with. After all, Palin's character could be a heart beat away from the Presidency if McCain is elected. The public deserves the truth by her testifying in front of an INDEPENDENT board, not one she picks. How many middle class citizens you know that would get away with ignoring a subpoena -- hmmm, I guess if you could hire high powered lawyers to put you and your cronnies above the law, you could.

Come on, what are you afraid of McCain, the truth? McCain keeps preaching about transparency in government, but I guess that only applies to others, not himself or those he surrounds himself with.

McCain seems to wear hypocrisy as well as one of his thousand dollar suits. His campaign and campaign tactics looks more and more like the same eight years of Bush scare tactics that middle class come to despise. BUSH SCARE TACTICS MAY OF WORKED FOR THE WAR, BUT IT WON'T WORK FOR THE ECONOMY. WE SWALLOWED THE BUSH SCARE TACTIC PILL BEFORE AND THE ONLY CURE FOR THIS CANCER IS TO PUT IN OFFICE SOMEONE THAT DOESN'T REFLECT BUSH POLICIES WHILE CAMPAIGNING -- WE NEED A PRESIDENT WHO BELIEVES THERE IS A BETTER WAY AND THAT SURE ISN'T THE MCCAIN’S HYPOCRISY POLICY THAT APPLIES TO EVERYONE ELSE, WHILE HE APPLIES DIFFERENT STANDARDS TO HIMSELF AND THE HYPOCRITES HE SURROUNDS HIMSELF WITH.

BRING IT ON, MCCAIN, AT THE NEXT DEBATE. I DARE YOU!

Posted by: steveeyes | October 10, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Verse
With the troubles at hand, feels like we’re sinking

It’s time to wake up and change our thinking

If we lose our way, everyone will pay

Chorus
Bring us back, bring us back to the middle

Lift us up, lift us up, don’t drag us down

Give us strength, give us strength to bend a little

Help us find, help us find some common ground

Bridge
Let’s put our differences aside

Start a new revolution

If we work side by side

We’ll find the solution

Chorus
Bring us back, bring us back to the middle

Lift us up, lift us up, don’t drag us down

Give us strength, give us strength to bend a little

Help us find, help us find some common ground

Posted by: ManintheMiddle | October 10, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: toritto | October 10, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

McCain's moral cowardice has been one of the subtexts of this campaign ever since he wound up the nomination and turned his attention to Barack Obama. But I did not realize it would reveal itself in such a physical dimension.


The tell came this week as McCain unearthed the Ayers story which, for whatever its merits, was fully aired months ago and has no clear relation to the particulars of October other than McCain's collapsing poll numbers. He's on it. Palin's on it. He's releasing slashing new Ayers TV ads and both he and Palin are ginning their crowds up into spiraling gyres of right-wing delirium -- a ready-made Lord of the Flies (and let's admit that's a gentle allusion, given the tone of these rightwing lunitic fringers) if Obama happened into one of the auditoriums at the wrong moment.


McCain even swaggered on for a couple days about how he was going to 'take the gloves off' when he met up with Obama in Nashville. But when the two of them were there in each others physical presence ... nothing. By a myriad of gestures and reactions Obama owned him.


Nor is it a matter of shifting off the tactics, because as soon as McCain made his hasty retreat from the stage at Debate #2 he was right back at it. In every other aspect of life, high and low, refined and unlovely, we have a word for that kind of behavior: COWARDICE.


And now Obama can taunt McCain with that very cowardice, his inability to just say it to his face. And if my take on the inner workings of McCain's mind at the moment is right that should simply unhinge him even more.
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEtZlR3zp4c
.

Posted by: DrainYou | October 10, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

OMG! He's Black!!

That librul, pinko, left wing, commie, leninist, trotskyite, maoist, anarchist, nihilist, muslim, islamo fascist terrorist, pal of terrorists, reader of Malcolm X, disciple of Rev. Wright, Chicago politician, (did I leave anything out?) is gonna be PRESIDENT of the United States of America!!

Oh Happy Day!!

...the countdown is on!!

:-)

P. S. I left out HUSSEIN

Heehee


Posted by: toritto | October 10, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mike Huckabee seems to be turning his back on McCain? Huckabee has been warning of this economic collapse for some time now, He is not happy with how the government or how McCain is dealing with it.
http://www.huckabeeshow.com

Some of Huckabee's Supporters are so mad at theyre party they are trying to get him to start a new party, Huckabee is pretty loyal to the GOP so this is doubtful, but it just seems the election is reaching a fever pitch. http://mccanes.com/newparty

Posted by: pastor123 | October 10, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

The only reason Coleman is pulling his negative ads is because his poll numbers have nose-dived over the past week and many of the pollsters attribute it to his relentlessly negative attack on Al Franken.

Posted by: Jeff62 | October 10, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a done deal, It over for him. He should try to leave this campaign with some dignity. He was the wrong candidate all along, no matter how many RNC puppet endorsements he got. It seems according to a new poll People preffer Huckabee/Palin08 4 to 1 Over McCain/Palin08. Thats what the RNC gets for Rigging the primary, and not letting the stronger candidate win. They wanted a weaker candadite because McCain would be a puppet. Here is the poll http://www.mccanes.com

In a funny twist, right before McCains horrible debate preformance. Huckabee was named Featured Debator of the year by watchdebate.com Pretty ironic huh. http://www.watchdebate.com

Posted by: pastor123 | October 10, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse


People are so sure that Obama is going to win they have already started posting tributes to his Presidency
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeAff-sOBec

Watch what the Cameras and Mics didnt show you during the second debate. The F word Shouted in the Debate Hall
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA3xIEes6Q4

Posted by: pastor123 | October 10, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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