In an interview with USA Today this weekend, Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for running a “sad” and “vituperative” campaign. He accused Obama of harnessing negativity and trying to tarnish his image with voters, rather than debate the issues. The attacks on Bain Capital, the insinuations about his tax returns—they’re all part of the same goal, to avoid a discussion of the current economy.
This is what you would expect an opposing candidate to say, but that doesn’t make it any less potent as a message. Voters always say they are tired of negative campaining, and candidates who brand themselves as “positive” can capitalize on that fact—even as they themselves run negative ads (see Obama, 2008).