Clinton Campaign Defends Using GOP Tactics in "3 am Ad"

On a conference call with Ann Lewis and Howard Wolfson of the Clinton campaign this morning, Lewis hit Obama hard for repeating Republican talking points and reinforcing the GOP frame in attacking Hillary Clinton on healthcare and other issues. So I got a chance to ask a question as to why they chose to run the "phone ad," which reinforces the the Republican "be afraid all the time" frame? And isn't John McCain ultimately the winner in that argument?

The response was unsatisfying -- Lewis said that using fear to divide us or suggest that there are threats that don't exist is wrong, but that she thought it was fair to say that every president in their tenure faces a security threat that is legitimate. She said that since Democrats had been taking it on the chin over national security for so long it was good to take the issue on up front, which might have made sense if it was a general election ad but since the implicit message was that Obama's not ready to do that, and thus that we are subject to threats he can't face, it does reinforce the "Democrats are soft" messaging.

Wolfson said that what they were trying to say was that Hillary Clinton is prepared using good judgment and all the tools at her disposal, which I took to mean not resorting to war first, but the ad doesn't say that. It says there are bogeymen in the night who will threaten your kids and you should be scared. It's a Republican message and the ultimate Republican frame that has been used to justify interminable war and to uncontrollable defense spending. It's what makes members of Congress terrified to end the war by defunding it. It's a destructive message at a time when people want out and are open to new ideas and new leadership.

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