UPDATE: Fitz-Gerald campaign denies they are the source of negative phone calls against Polis.
This past week saw the first negative retail campaigning in the CD-2 race. Candidate Joan Fitz-Gerald’s campaign has apparently been making phone calls to targeted voters directly attacking opponent Jared Polis, though it’s unclear whether these were simply “robocalls” or live operators.
Robocalls and phone banks are certainly much cheaper to roll out than Polis’ massive TV blitz, and they’re a reliable tool in the box of old-school campaign hands, but the very act of calling–especially going overtly negative on the phone–has its own pitfalls, particularly if it becomes a public dispute. On the upside, messages can be planted on voters under the radar of the media, as long as you don’t get stung by bad press when they get wind of it. And for God’s sake, don’t call during dinner or in the middle of the night.
We were “leaked” an “internal memo” from the Polis camp to staff with counterpoints for these calls (follows). The best thing the Polis campaign can probably do about them is complain as loudly as possible to supporters and the press, in the hope that the attacks in the call will get swamped by pushback about the calling. What’s your take on the efficacy of campaign smile-and-dial?
From: Robert Becker (email@example.com)
Date: July 7, 2008 1:16:41 PM MDT
Subject: Response to Fitz-Gerald’s negative phoning
ALL FIELD STAFF – Forward this along to all your key leaders in the Field. Thanks.
TO: Field Organizers, Neighborhood Leaders, and Key Polis Supporters
FR: Robert Becker, Campaign Manager
RE: Response to Fitz-Gerald’s negative phoning
As many of you know, we have received scores of calls/emails/complaints about Joan Fitz-Gerald’s negative phone calling last week. While unfortunate, this is not surprising – Joan Fitz-Gerald has been pretty much 100% negative for the past several months.
If this is the kind of campaign she wants to run, so be it – it will backfire. Voters have been consistently rejecting these kinds of tactics. Of the many emails we received at headquarters, this one says it best:
“Jared – You probably already know but someone is running a Push Poll against you… It’s pretty over the top… I had been having a hard time deciding who to vote for… no more. I don’t like being treated like a moron. I will vote for you, and will be telling my friends why. Good luck. At this point I’d hate to see Fitz-Gerald win.”
In the coming five weeks we can expect more of the same negative attacks from Fitz-Gerald and her allies (we recently learned that a Washington, DC-based special interest group is planning to spend $2 million on her behalf).
We will continue to run an issue-oriented, positive campaign… but we will not hesitate to defend Jared at the grassroots level vigorously. Some of the negative attacks in this so-called “push poll” that we have heard through feedback from voters were in fact “pretty over the top” (or just plain silly):
• Polis was the driving force behind Amendment 41, which hurt Coloradans? Amendment 41 passed with 62% of the vote and it didn’t hurt Coloradans – it hurt lobbyists… by banning them from giving gifts to lawmakers (We actually want Fitz-Gerald to attack us on this!).
• Polis’ campaign money has come from “Swift Boat Veterans”? Of the thousands of individual donations to Jared’s campaign it is true that a few came from people who also gave money to the anti-John Kerry “Swift Boat” campaign in 2004. The Fitz-Gerald campaign has been fixated on this for over six months now. The fact that Jared donated all monies received from them to charity several months ago seems to not matter to them. We are fairly confident that voters fretting over the rising cost of gas or the Iraq war could really care less about why a few conservative donors decided to send contributions to Jared.
But by far the most outrageous was her attack on Jared’s position on the Iraq war – Polis won’t commit to getting our troops out of Iraq? This is a pretty ironic claim coming from Joan Fitz-Gerald. After all she is the only candidate in this race who voted to praise George W. Bush’s leadership on the Iraq war – TWICE!
Jared Polis has opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. Furthermore he helped formulate a well thought-out, 32-page plan to end the war and bring our troops home that has been endorsed by over 50 progressive Democratic congressional candidates across the country. Polis’ Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq can be found online at: http://www.polisforcongress.co…
Based on our internal polling all of your hard work is paying off – voters are responding to Jared’s message of positive change and rejecting the Fitz-Gerald attacks. Keep up the hard work!
Jared Polis for Congress