Tuesday, December 10, 2013
With independent Angus King running a solid first in the polls, Republican Charlie Summers unleashed a minute-long Web ad Monday criticizing the former Maine governor for liking to "say one thing and do another," from campaign ads to campaign finance.
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TRUTH TEST is a regular feature of MaineToday Media's campaign coverage in which we cast a critical eye on the truthfulness of advertising and public comments by political candidates.
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Angus King's 1994 "corporation as a big person" claim in a 1994 Portland Press Herald article
The ad spans a long period of time and exaggerates some claims but sticks relatively close to facts about King's stances over time and his race so far.
Claim: "(In 1994) Angus launched negative personal attack ads and even compared the older Joe Brennan to a mummy. ... And now he's complaining about negative ads after his own negative personal attack ads helped put him in the governor's mansion."
Negativity is in the eye of the beholder, but the reference to this King ad against Joseph Brennan, the former Democratic Maine governor King defeated in 1994, is accurate.
It comes from Summers' first Web ad of the general election campaign season, and it harkens back to a 1994 ad from the first gubernatorial campaign for King, the early favorite to win Maine's soon-to-be-open Senate seat.
Ads in the 1994 campaign cycle drew a lot of attention. One, from the King campaign, alternates images of technological advances like jet planes, saying, "This is change," with dated images including mummies and switchboard operators, saying, "This isn't."
It culminates in a color picture of King, dubbed as change, and a black-and-white picture of Brennan, who wasn't, according to the ad.
"Nominally, this isn't an attack ad," said Jim Melcher, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington. "It's a contrast ad," though many observers may not see a difference, he said.
Summers' ad later draws attention to the King campaign's recent decrying of ads against him by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hitting King for "mismanagement" and high rates of spending as governor. King's campaign held a news conference after that ad's release last month, featuring supporters from Maine's business community.
After that, King wrote in an email to supporters that the chamber was "taking aim at my character."
Verdict: It's hard to factually assess the negativity of ads, so we won't. But Summers' campaign assessed the substance of the 1994 ad and correctly.
We rate this statement true.
Claim: "He slammed super PACs, but Angus was the first candidate in the race to get support from super PACs."
It's not "super PACs," but "super PAC" so far.
In the Senate race, King drew the first contribution from a super PAC, a type of political action committee that can spend and raise unlimited amounts of money and use it to make independent purchases supporting or opposing candidates, though that money can't go to candidates or parties themselves.
A super PAC called icPurple, founded by billionaire Ted Waitt, spent more than $30,000 in May and June in support of King, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Nearly $24,000 went toward production costs for an online video. The rest went to Internet ads and communication. It's the only super PAC reported to be involved in the Maine race so far.
In June, King held a news conference saying he would dissuade super PAC involvement in his campaign if his opponents did as well, saying the groups' "money is destroying our politics."
But he didn't shy away from mentioning icPurple's support of him, saying in a letter to Democrat Cynthia Dill that "one of these groups has already sprung up and created an ad on my behalf in this election."
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