If you’re at all an observer of election politics, you know there’s a tension between political camps where everyone waits to see who’ll stumble first.
The “gotcha” factor has been getting worse in recent years. Our ability to ferret out things from candidates’ distant pasts has improved as old newspaper archives have become available electronically. Social media have allowed instant distribution of every gaffe, and the 24-hour cable news cycle turns every anthill into Mount Everest.
Thus, we see things like the asinine dustup last week over an allegation that, nearly 50 years ago, a young Mitt Romney might have been mean to a gay classmate.
Stop. The. Presses.
Seriously: Barack Obama can sit in church as an adult for 20 years listening to a raving racist and claim not to notice, but we’re supposed to get worked up because Mitt Romney had bad manners when he was a teen?
Anyone who points out a stumble gets attacked, of course. We would probably faint from shock if a candidate ever admitted making an error without pointing fingers at everyone else.
Whatever the case, the stumbling phase first appeared in the District 12 U.S. congressional race a few months ago.
In January, during a forum between the four Republican congressional candidates in Statesboro, Lee Anderson was asked about the Federal Reserve. He launched into a response that, to be charitable, indicated he was confused.
Anderson talked about “federal reserves” as if the federal government has a budget surplus. Naturally, the other candidates responded with their own less-confused opinions on the Federal Reserve.
After his opponents helped a painful video of the exchange make the rounds, Anderson’s camp responded not by admitting he’d erred in his response, but by accusing the other candidates of attacking him.
Then, last week, Rick Allen filed an ethics complaint against Wright McLeod, contending McLeod’s campaign had illegally mined data from Allen’s financial disclosures and used it for fundraising purposes. They also said McLeod had failed to properly account for some of his expenditures, including rent and staffing.
McLeod’s campaign responded by claiming he was being attacked for frugality. The press release didn’t mention the data-mining allegation.
All this certainly will provide fodder for the candidates as they get set for an upcoming debate planned for Columbia County.
The Columbia County Republican Party and the Greater Columbia County Republican Women last week announced that they’re planning to hold a debate between the four Republican congressional candidates at 10 a.m. June 30 at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center.
Should be fun, if you’re into that sort of thing.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/