Friday, March 7, 2014
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Independent Maine U.S. Senate candidate Angus King
Ryan Boyd, field assistant with the Angus King for U.S. Senate Campaign, ties a balloon up to the campaign's fair booth at the Cumberland County Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
"I'm of the James Carville philosophy, that if they attack you with a fly-swatter you come back with a chain saw," said Bailey, adding that an effective television response to the U.S. Chamber ad may have stopped a slide in polling numbers and the ensuing spending by outside groups.
"I know it's Monday morning quarterbacking," Bailey said in an email, "but I was surprised at the time that he let that ad run through the Olympics (in July and August) with no response. I would never advise that."
It's unclear whether King's internal polling didn't capture the narrowing gap, or whether the campaign simply didn't anticipate that it would spur additional spending from Republican groups.
Either way, the campaign faces criticism that its responses have left King vulnerable.
Last week, King's team released an ad featuring Sam Waterson, the actor perhaps most famous for his role in the "Law and Order" television series. In the ad, Waterson laments to viewers that outsiders are attacking King.
The spot was derided immediately by Republicans and neutral observers, who noted that Waterson, who has no ties to Maine, was effectively an outsider telling Mainers how to vote.
Supporters of Republican candidate Charlie Summers have called King a hypocrite for complaining that groups from Washington, D.C., are trying to influence the race while courting outside money to bolster his campaign.
Others question whether King, famous for calling his own shots as governor, has a campaign staff that will throw cold water on ideas that could backfire.
Recently, Rand, a widely respected campaign strategist, has played a more public role. On Monday, she said the campaign would use the final weeks of the campaign to draw a clear distinction between King and his opponents, Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill.
"We're not going to get involved with mudslinging or making specious claims about our opponents," Rand said. "But we are going to let people know exactly where Angus stands, where our opponents stand and what that choice means for Mainers."
There's general agreement that the campaign has made many mistakes that have emboldened King's rivals. A poll released in March gave King nearly a 30-percentage-point lead. One poll released last week showed his advantage at 8 points. Most agree that more outside money is on its way.
Cuzzi said early missteps have forced the King campaign to "effectively reintroduce him to voters."
Cuzzi said that while the campaign should challenge any untruths, it should also do a better job promoting the former governor.
"The campaign has yet to produce the sort of big ideas that match the candidate," he said.
Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: