A few tweets hit the inbox or whatever it's called this morning about McKay Coppins's Buzzfeed piece today explaining that conservatives are starting to love Romney because he's running a tough campaign, going after Obama hard. The idea, see, is that John McCain was a big softee, and this time things is'a gonna be different. From the article:
“They’ve been pretty surprised and impressed at how willing Boston has been to push back,” the advisor said. “We’re raising money, and I’m getting calls from people saying, ‘This is amazing… I didn’t think this would happen.”
“Now there’s a narrative that this guy is going to fight back and that’s not going to be a McCain situation where they get to attack you and everything you say is off limits,” he said.
It's a nice story that as usual has very little to do with reality. McCain ran a very negative campaign. Let's look at the numbers.
The University of Wisconsin studied Obama's and McCain's negative ad campaigns in 2008, summarized in this WaPo piece. Result? Mostly a wash, but both ran extremely negative campaigns. Obama ran more negative ads in terms of gross numbers, but that was because he had more money and ran more ads period. McCain ran a higher percentage of negative ads in the fall, when "virtually all" of his ads were negative. Yes, virtually all.
McCain was plenty negative around this time of year, too. Remember his summer blitz of attack ads about Obama being an empty suit, a celebrity and a pretty face and all that? That particular ad, from July 2008, joined Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. I'd call that withering.
The myth has arisen because of one fact, largely--that McCain wouldn't approve a Rev. Wright ad. They seem to have some idea that if only McCain had done that, he'd have won. That might actually be true, but it doesn't follow that Rev. Wright ads would work this time around, and indeed we saw how quickly Romney shut that down a few weeks ago. The difference is largely that Obama has a record now, which he didn't in 2008, and Romney is going after it, as McCain or anyone surely would.
Let's see if Romney goes with "pals around with terrorists." Are people forgetting that, too? Sheesh.