Local News

Negative Ads No Surprise in Senate Race

Posted October 24, 1998

— According to some state polls, the U.S. Senate race between John Edwards and Sen. Lauch Faircloth is a dead heat.

That's why televisions across the state may be heating up right now, as the North Carolina tradition of political mudslinging goes into full swing.

The Faircloth campaign has launched it's political missiles right into the homes of millions of voters with television advertisements that attack Edwards.

And now, Edwards is gathering ammunition to fire back.

"People are sick of negative, personal attacks on television," Edwards said. "They want to see us talking about issues. I think that the result of that is we've given them a clear choice. Faircloth runs negative ads. We talk about the issues."

But right now, the issue seems to be the ads.

Political analyst Andy Taylor said all this is no surprise to him.

"Negative ads are successful. They do work," Taylor said.

Taylor said attack ads turn off many voters and lower voter turnout, but they can also bring out a candidate's strongest supporters.

"I think that what the Faircloth campaign has done is that they want to rally out the hardcore Republican conservative voters, and they're doing that by linking John Edwards to the president and by saying he's a big tax-and-spend liberal."

North Carolina is becoming nationally known for these electronic assaults. Taylor said they have worked one ad that may have helped Sen. Jess Helms beat Harvey Gantt in 1990.

"The famous white hands screwing up the job application, throwing it in the trash, which is showing Harvey Gantt to be a proponent of affirmative action, and Jesse Helms wasn't," said Taylor. "That ad to many people caused Helms to win in 1990."

The Edwards campaign officials said they will respond to this latest round of ads from Faircloth Monday morning, and that will include their own ads fighting back.


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