Karl Rove today warned both the Obama and McCain camps over statements they have made in recent ads must check out on the fact meter, or they will risk hurting themselves. On Obama:
The ex-White House deputy chief of staff also said Obama is fair in suggesting that McCain is a longtime Washington insider — since McCain has been in Congress since 1982 — but went over the line in attacking the Republican candidate as out of touch because he doesn’t send e-mail or use a computer.
He also made mention of the “lipstick statement,” correctly noting that while it was meant for John McCain, or could be perceived as denigrating Sarah Palin.
Without specifying, Rove said McCain’s campaign has also gone “one step too far” in some of its ads by attributing to Obama some criticisms that don’t meet “the 100-percent-truth test.”
Rove said that the campaigns don’t have to tell 100 percent of the tale when trying to score points but they do have to be careful about claims that are flat out wrong.
That he wasn’t specific about where McCain went wrong is true. You can see the transcript with Chris Wallace at this Politico article. Yet, I think it’s quite clear what he means. The “Education” and “Fact Check” ads were both huge news last week, and I went to factcheck.org to find the truth. I also looked at some claims that Obama has made that are untrue.
Rove went on to give some suggestions as to what the campaigns should do to ensure they’re putting out factual ads:
There ought to be an adult who says, ‘Do we really need to go that far in this ad? Don’t we make our point and won’t we get broader acceptance and deny the opposition an opportunity to attack us if we don’t include that one little last tweak in the ad?’
I think he makes a good point. There definitely are ways to craft an ad that attacks your opponent on an issue without it coming back to bite you. Basically, it means not taking quotes out of context. That’s what happened in the “Fact Check” ad when they attributed words supposedly criticizing Obama that actually never referred to him at all. Or in Obama’s “Fix the Economy” ad when he tried to portray McCain as out of touch of touch on the economy by using old and incomplete quotes.
What the campaigns really need are people who are researching the validity of what they’re saying in the ads. Since, with the Internet age, debunking a claim is just a click or two away.