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The conservative media go all in for Tim Burns

First NY-23, then Massachusetts, now PA-12* -- every special election since the start of the health-care debate has seen the online and establishment conservative media go all-in for the GOP's candidate. The race in PA-12 has been a more under-the-radar affair, although as is often the case, conservative freelancer Robert Stacy McCain was the first in with gung-ho, positive reports on GOP candidate Tim Burns and his "veritable of army of volunteers." The Capitol Confidential blogger at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government wrote up his experience as "part of the ground team" for Burns, joined by people from five other states. The prolific Jim Hoft blogged every piece of news benefiting the Burns campaign, including small-scale events and ads from third-party groups like the National Republican Trust.

Even better for Burns's outreach to national conservatives: the glowing coverage he's received on Fox News, including three interviews on Sean Hannity's show. As he did in NY-23, Hannity got an exclusive pre-election night interview with Burns in which he lobbed the candidate questions he didn't have to struggle to answer.

Now the one thing you might take away from this poll that interested me is voter intensity in terms of people being excited to vote. It's 60, what, 62-38, in your favor. Why that disparity?

Your opponent, a Democrat, is an opponent of abortion rights, gun control. He said he would have voted against health-care reform. The climate change bills. The opposite of the way Murtha has voted. Do you think that candidate was put in there on purpose to seem conservative?

Obviously the president didn't help in Massachusetts, New Jersey or Virginia. Would the president help or hurt if he did come to Pennsylvania right now?

I think this stuff matters. Burns is the third Republican candidate this cycle (fine, yes, Hoffman was conservative) to use the conservative media, hungry for sound bites and eager to witness a strike against the Obama administration, to build a dramatic narrative (man goes to tea party, runs for Congress to erase John Murtha's ugly legacy) without the help of the mainstream media. That helped him out-fundraise Democratic candidate Mark Critz, even if you discount the personal wealth that attracted some Republicans to a Burns candidacy in the first place. Critz has provided fewer openings for Burns than Martha Coakley did for Scott Brown, so we haven't seen the last-minute devastating rat-a-tat-tat of negative stories that marked that race. (It was amazing to watch damaging Coakley items, which might have otherwise been lost in the news cycle, jump from Gateway Pundit or the Weekly Standard and into cable news.) But Burns has coupled a solid general election-style message with outreach to national conservatives.

*and HI-01

By David Weigel  |  May 18, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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