Negative attack ads are flooding the airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Front-runner Donald Trump, Trump’s chief rival Ted Cruz, climbing centrist Marco Rubio, and mainstream media favorite John Kasich are the targets of countless advertising buys that are crafted to direct attention toward the perceived shortcomings of each of the GOP presidential candidates.
Florida Senator Rubio is being targeted in New Hampshire and in national ads by Right to Rise, a Jeb Bush-friendly super PAC.
One political advertisement depicts Rubio as a perpetually twirling weathervane that changes positions on immigration with the fluctuating political winds.
Texas Senator Cruz, now in second place behind business magnate Trump, has shifted attack advertising away from Trump and directed it almost exclusively at Rubio; this following Rubio’s apparent rise in recent polls conducted in states that have early primaries.
The ads feature Rubio’s role in the 2013 attempt by the U.S. Senate to pass so-called comprehensive immigration reform. In the ad, the Florida senator is referred to as “The Republican Obama.”
Trump is going all out with advertisements in the state that has the first primary contest, Iowa. The front-runner's campaign has spent $3.4 million since early January, $1 million more with regard to spending than the closest GOP competitor, Rubio.
The Trump campaign has been using video footage of Cruz in a December 2015 interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier.
The anchor brought up an amendment that Cruz had offered to the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would have facilitated a so-called path to legalization.
As would be expected with a negative ad, Cruz did not adequately answer the questions in the video footage.
To accompany the ad, the Trump campaign issued a press release.
“Ted Cruz is a total hypocrite and, until recently, a Canadian citizen who may not even have a legal right to run for President,” the release said. “He didn’t disclose loans, pretending he’s Robin Hood, when he’s just another all talk, no action politician.”
Meanwhile in Iowa the Republican establishment has launched a new late-in-the-game attack on Trump. A new super PAC, Our Principles PAC, has kicked off a television campaign that claims the front runner is not a genuine conservative.
The super PAC behind the ad assault happens to be run by Katie Packer, the deputy campaign manager to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Curiously, the dynamic in the early primary states is not exactly what it appears to be.
Rubio supporters find the idea of a Trump triumph in Iowa over Cruz appealing. Whether real or imagined, it is believed that the Rubio camp will be the beneficiary of any anxiety that is generated within the GOP establishment should an actual Trump electoral victory materialize.
On the other hand, if Cruz were to be victorious in Iowa it is thought that the Texas senator might possibly gain momentum, which could carry over to successive states and pull support away from Rubio.
Ohio Governor John Kasich is yet another candidate who is the target of negative advertising. Right to Rise USA, a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, is placing ads on television that slam Kasich for having expanded Medicaid in Ohio.
An ad aired by the American Future Fund, a so-called “dark money group,” refers to Kasich by using a pejorative that is strikingly similar to the one lobbed against Rubio, “an Obama Republican.”
At the same time the ad simultaneously focuses on Kasich's expansion of Medicaid and support for Common Core.
The super PAC that supports the Ohio governor, New Day For America, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the American Future Fund ad. Reportedly, the American Future Fund has set aside over a half-million dollars and is linked to the prodigious GOP donors, the Koch Brothers.
It seems that every election season, after numerous political attack ads are deployed, the hand-wringing begins to escalate. It is particularly prominent on the part of the media and punditry over the inherent nature of negative attack ads.
The maxim that is repeated by many of the expert strategists across the political spectrum is that, despite the strident nature of negative ads, they are used because they work.
Nevertheless, there may be a positive component within a negative ad in that the advertisement’s content may hold some benefit for the electorate.
When candidates produce positive advertisements, it is usually with the intention of pitching themselves to the electorate, relaying their personal stories, and enumerating their political promises.
The content of such ads, though, is usually non-specific and typically focuses on imagery and broad-based themes.
Conversely, negative ads may actually zero in on matters that need to be further explored.
They frequently feature policy distinctions that can provide a degree of clarity for voters and alert them to issues of which they may otherwise not yet been made aware.
This may be especially true in a field as crowded as the one presently seen in the current slate of GOP candidates.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.