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Can Democrats dissuade Dan Coats from running?

In the six days since former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) made clear he was preparing to challenge Sen. Evan Bayh (D) in the fall, national Democrats have unleashed an all-out assault aimed at making Coats reconsider his candidacy.

First came a detailed dossier from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee running through the clients Coats represents as a federal lobbyist -- including PhRMA and Goldman Sachs.

Then the DSCC released a video from 2008 in which Coats tells a Republican audience he and his wife are planning to move to North Carolina -- not Indiana -- when he retires. (Coats currently lives in the D.C. area.)

And, finally, there was today's report that Coats had lobbied for a number of foreign governments including Yemen.

The goal of this onslaught is two-pronged.

First, Coats hasn't been involved in a competitive political campaign since the early 1990s -- a time when things like You Tube weren't even a glint in their creators' collective eyes. By hammering Coats before he even becomes a candidate, national Democrats want to make sure the former Senator understands what he is in for over the course of the next nine months (or so) and how much the media environment -- when it comes to politics -- has changed.

Second, assuming Coats is committed to run no matter what Democrats throw at him, the goal of the string of negative stories is to change the narrative from "Bayh draws a serious challenge in Coats" to "Coats, former lobbyist, returns home to Indiana to run".

If the goal of this effort was to to rob national Republicans of a clean recruiting victory and to keep Coats from building momentum in the runup to his formal entry into the race -- likely to come right around the state's official filing deadline of Feb. 19 -- then it's mission accomplished for Democrats.

Republicans counter, however, that while their Democratic counterparts have done well to define Coats in the short run, they have done nothing to dissuade him from running and have opened up a Pandora's box in terms of the parameters of the debate this fall.

"In pursuing this line of attack, they've opened themselves up to a range of questions that will be raised in the months ahead about the Bayh family partnership and how Bayh's net worth has somehow tripled since he became a U.S. Senator," said National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh. "If Evan Bayh wants to have a debate about which candidate in the race is a product of the special interests we look forward to it, because post-November, he'll have even more time to enjoy his $1.8 million Delaware beach vacation home."

Ouch.

Republicans also point to several recent editorials in the state that make an issue of Bayh's somewhat spotty record of returning to the state as evidence that attacking where Coats currently lives could backfire.

"Once a rising star in the Democratic Party and a favorite son in Indiana, Bayh too seldom sets foot in his home state and too often vacillates when it comes to public policy," reads an editorial from the Herald Bulletin, a central Indiana newspaper.

The sum total of all this sturm und drang? Democrats have successfully made Coats' runup to his, um, run a rocky one. Whether that aggressiveness will ultimately boomerang against them is an open question.

The only sure thing about this race is that it promises to be expensive -- Bayh has $13 million in the bank -- and nasty.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 8, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Is there no REAL Democrat - a true supporter of universal health care, for instance (and I don't mean single-payer; public option or Medicare buy-in is fine) to challenge BAYH?

Posted by: SuePastinChicago | February 9, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, orgbluspider, there you go again, interrupting a perfectly satisfying rant with uncomfortable facts!

Dang, inconvenient, unpatriotic, uncooperative facts, anwyay!

Right 37th&O?

Posted by: Iconoblaster | February 9, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Yes, 37thand0street, that was the case over 100 years ago... However, having been in the minority for the bulk of the 20th century, the Republicans under Nixon, Goldwater and then Reagan made a move that paid off. Rather than being seen as the party of the northeastern blue-blooded elite, they understood that to survive they would have to appeal to a larger group. The result was a campaign to explain to lower middle class whites how their interests were in-line with those of upper class whites, not other lower middle class Americans. It was a brilliant move that made a once defunct party a real contender. Not surprisingly, this message has had its greatest success in the South.

In short, to identify this party with Lincoln's Republicans is a bit of a joke. From Jefferson until poor European immigrants changed the face of the Democratic Party in the late 19th century, it was the party of limited government and all those lovely aphorisms that conservatives like to bounce around and call American (as if Hamilton didn't exist). Lincoln's Republicans were the liberals that upset the social order (slavery in the South) of the day. Just as founders were liberals who upset the social order (monarch's prerogative over empire) of the day.

Please try and remember what it means to be a conservative... when you make comments like Republicans freed the slaves, you just look ignorant. Yes, people that called themselves Republicans did that... but they were nothing like the people that call themselves Republicans today... people whose entire intellectual heritage actually hails to the Democrats that you were trying to pillory.

Posted by: orgbluspider | February 9, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

As a former accountant-turned-Marine, I would have to agree.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 8, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Underneath all the back and forth screeching here, there was one valuable suggestion. One poster mentioned that Bayh's new worth has tripled during his time in Congress. He's not the only one.

I can't believe that all the lobbying money goes just to "campaign contributions." We need some forensic accountants to look into the personal finances of legislators. I bet we'd find William Jefferson isn't the only one with frozen assets.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | February 8, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

kentuckywoman2


What is so wacky about your posting at 8:04 is the Republicans are the ones who were in the North and freed the slaves.


The democrats are the ones who took over the South - and assisted the KKK in the suppression of the blacks and the reversal of the reconstruction reforms.

The democrats have twisted everything around - to the point at which you are so confused you fail to realize the democrats are the corrupt, bad guys.


So your whole idea is a bit off.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 8, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

sasquatchbigfoot

An extremely wise person.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 8, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps we need a new solution; maybe it would have been better if the South had won the Civil War and we had two countries on this continent - The United States of America and the Confederate States of America.

That way, all the stupid, ignorant, uneducated yahoos who are bigots could join the right-wing nut jobs like Palin and her ilk, along with the rest of the greedy, selfish, Republicans and live in the Confederate States.

Which would leave the rest of us who actually use our brains to join with the progressive Democrats, Independents, Greens, etc., and live in the U.S.A.

I'd rather have two countries than live in the kind of world that Republicans envision for us - where the masses are merely slave labor who serve to make the rich even richer.

Can we say, Plantation Masters?

Because that's what they are.

Posted by: kentuckywoman2 | February 8, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

" especially since Coats has represented Yemen and thus can be called a lobbyist for terrorists? "

So the left is willing to admit Yemen is a terrorist friendly state insofar as Coats lobbied for them, but not *Really* a terrorist state that we should potentially worry about (or even *refer* to as such)?

Interesting...

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 8, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Chris Matthews totally chewed up Palin and the baggers with the help of Richard Wolffe.

Chris gets it: he and Richard fully understand the dogwhistles represented by Palin's calls for "revolution" and her open mocking of a sitting President.

In quoting Huey Long's famous statement about the dangers of "fascism," Chris M. also seemed to imply Palin's ultimate agenda may be imposition of some form of fascism.

They concluded Palin's appeal is pretty limited, basically the South and other Yahoos around the country. We also got the sense (they didn't say so explicitly) Palin may plan to take power through some kind of Plan B.

Great TV but scary stuff.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 8, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Research 2000 has BHO at 56% approval. Doin' fine.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 8, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Naaaaah he's just an idiot and that's all he is

Posted by: Noacoler | February 8, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

37thandO is s teabagging schmuck

Posted by: MPersow | February 8, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey, 37thandOstreet, here's a question for you:

What the hell is a Hoya?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | February 8, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Then the DSCC released a video from 2008 in which Coats tells a Republican audience he and his wife are planning to move to North Carolina -- not Indiana -- when he retires. (Coats currently lives in the D.C. area.)
______
Let's see, Dan Coats is a former Senator from Indiana, and second, how is moving back to Indiana any different than Hillary Clinton moving from Arkansas to New York in order to run for the Senate? Dems are such HYPOCRITES!!!!

Posted by: WildBill1 | February 8, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Shut up, moron

Posted by: Noacoler | February 8, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama is up to 47% disapproval in a new Marist poll - another 3% and he is TOAST - the point of no-return.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 8, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Obama is up to 47% disapproval in a new Marist poll - another 3% and he is TOAST - the point of no-return.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 8, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

In my state, Colorado, the empty suit of a Senator, Wayne Allard, managed to defeat the Democrat Tom Strickland by having advertising that endlessly repeated millionaire--lawyer--lobbyist. Is there any reason why this wouldn't work against Coats especially since Coats has represented Yemen and thus can be called a lobbyist for terrorists? Maybe Coats can make the case that he understands terrorism since he supports it.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | February 8, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Everybody was predicting that Brown did not stand a chance against Coakely so I think it’s highly likely that Coats will easily make a serious run on Bayh and force him to spend serious resource to save what at one point was assumed a “safe seat.” If the D leadership was not concerned, why release all the negative information on Coats so soon? I agree with the Fix the D are a little scared.

Posted by: sliowa1 | February 8, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Coats Game Plan

-Get Palin to campaign for me
(write talking points on her hand)
-Declare war on Iran-Palin says American people like war
-Show support for Israel (Open campaign in Tel-Avi)
-Advertise my record (oop's,rewrite it first.
-Carry around a cordless phone, I mean that phone that you can type on.
-Sell something on E-bay.
-Loose some weight, grow some hair-maybe easier to have affair with wife of campaign manager-make me look real GOP and young.
-Always mention Ronald Reagan
-Threaten to succeed from the union.
-If it looks like I am making progress move to Indiana.
-Don't talk about winning money for betting on New Orleans.
-A you tube what?
-

Posted by: COWENS99 | February 8, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"Ouch."

so now Cillizza takes style lessons from the 37th troll. What's next, repeated posts? Oh, I guess we already have those .. creative line-breaking?

Posted by: Noacoler | February 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

dems want to win no matter what the cost...

Posted by: DwightCollins | February 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

'Republicans counter, however, that while their Democratic counterparts have done well to define Coats in the short run, they have done nothing to dissuade him from running and have opened up a Pandora's box in terms of the parameters of the debate this fall.'

Are you serious? Rs in the last few years have stopping at nothing, have stooped to not only digging dirt but just plain making filthy stuff up about Democrats. It's a knife fight -- it's time for Dems to bring them out too.

Posted by: drindl | February 8, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

37, your parents say the mac and cheese are ready...and two juice boxes.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 8, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"...the goal of the string of negative stories is to change the narrative from "Bayh draws a serious challenge in Coats" to "Coats, former lobbyist, returns home to Indiana to run"."
_________

How is the information "negative" if it is factual (which it seems to be)???? Can't we stop with the "narratives" and just report objective facts?

Is Coats the new Pawlenty in this space?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | February 8, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"the goal of the string of negative stories is to change the narrative from "Bayh draws a serious challenge in Coats" to "Coats, former lobbyist, returns home to Indiana to run". "


When the Fix changes his story from 'recruiting coup' to 'recruiting bust' we'll know the narrative has changed.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | February 8, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Are we really talking about Coats AGAIN, already?

I thought it was that other guy from Indiana.. the one the Fix was blowing about last year... who was the genius, blockbuster Republican who was going to take Indiana. What was his name...

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 8, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DDAWD | February 8, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Bayh has a 53% approval rating in this environment. He is fine and Coats is going to get creamed. I think the Dems should want him in the race IMO. He can't use the outsider argument against Bayh like some random state legislature could.

Posted by: AndyR3 | February 8, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Chris

John Murtha died - which is sad - I hate to see these old-line guys go.

Well.

Having said that, there is no way the democrats are going to hold that district - so chalk up one more.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | February 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

lol@Democrats expanding the parameters of the debate. Yeah, Republicans REALLY wanted to make this a civil campaign, but those durn Dems just wouldn't let them, right?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 8, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

The interview about NC was one thing, but the lobbyist stuff has been known for a very long time.

Coats should certainly have expected it. Would any campaign not have brought this up?

If Coats can't take it as an UNannounced candidate, what would it be like after he announces?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | February 8, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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