Thursday, August 28, 2014

DFA Ad Trips up Collins Camp

With the campaign of Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows circulating a poll that shows their candidate making a big dent in the lead of Sen. Susan Collins--the senior senator's advantage is down to 24% from 55% in June--Democracy For America (DFA) jumped into the fray on Wednesday with a $300,000 ad buy attacking Collins and supporting Bellows:

Collins reelection campaign spokesman Lance Dutson immediately took to Twitter to blast the above ad:

But then something funny happened: Dutson couldn't back up his rather bold charge. He couldn't come close.

Dutson began his dissection of the ad by attributing to it the claim that "Collins voted against Dodd-Frank."

The ad actually says that Collins voted "against a crackdown on Wall Street after the financial crisis" and references an April 26, 2010 vote to make its case.

This was indeed a vote on the Dodd-Frank financial reform package--but not the final, successful vote that made the bill into law. Rather, it was an earlier vote in which Collins lined up with Republicans to block the package. I'd forgotten that Collins had been on both sides of the Senate's financial reform bill, but clearly DFA didn't. (She was memorably quizzed about the filibuster by--of all people--Matt Lauer.)

In short, while it's indisputably true that Maine's three-term senator ultimately came around to backing Dodd-Frank, it's just as indisputable that Collins "voted against a crackdown" as the ad claims.

Spotlighting that fact might be considered uncharitable--after having voted against the bill, in the end Collins voted for it. In the context of a 60-second critique, the assertion could even (arguably) be called disingenuous. But all the caveats in the world don't change the fact that it's literally and verifiably true.

Meanwhile, Dutson's second attempt at exposing the ad's "falsehoods" came to even less:

As proof, Dutson cited Collins's vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act when it passed back in 2009. But as I tried to get across to him on Twitter, you can't refute the idea that someone is against doing "more" about something by citing a law she helped pass long ago: The whole point of using the word "more" is to signal a move beyond the present-tense status quo. (Try promising your kid more ice cream and then, when she asks for it, talking about the ice cream you bought her six weeks ago.)

This seems so basic as to be almost beyond explanation. But instead of trying again or recalibrating--instead of dialing back the charge that the ad is "riddled with falsehoods" Dutson simply dug in, citing "major factual errors".

Whether he had in mind other, unspecified errors or the errors he'd tried and failed to substantiate isn't clear.

Something tells me that further clarification won't be forthcoming.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quote of the Day

Washington Times:

"Prior to the Tea Party movement, moderate members such as Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, were only known back home. Today, they are household names and their telephone lines can be flooded at a moment’s notice with calls from activists--a move that can directly affect votes. It is akin to winning the war without firing a single shot, or spending a single dollar in those districts during an election year."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Sen. Susan Collins in a written statement:

"Increased foreign competition continues to present serious economic difficulties for the paper industry, which is why it’s absolutely essential that trade agreements be fair to American workers and open new markets for American products."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Under the Radar

Even as Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows makes herself available for extended unscripted interactions with voters and the press during her much-publicized walk across Maine, incumbent Sen. Susan Collins has removed the "Events" tab from her campaign website.

Compare the versions here and here.

This is actually part of a steady erosion of the utility of the Collins campaign site over the years: As technology has expanded the scope of what's possible, the Collins campaign has slowly reduced the amount of useful information on offer--from a 2002 site that provided issue positions and a biography through a 2008 version that at least feigned to care about policy to the current incarnation, virtually devoid of issue substance.

The site's superficiality underscores the content-free nature of the Collins political persona and the opacity of her views on many of the pressing issues of the day; the elimination of the "Events" tab in particular is a reminder of the senior senator's lack of transparency with Maine voters--not just during election season but year in, year out.