August 17, 2006

Chafee-Laffey II: Ad Wars, Part 1

Carroll Andrew Morse

Senator Lincoln Chafee and Mayor Steve Laffey, the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, debated on today’s Dan Yorke Show on WPRO-AM radio. Here are the notes I jotted down as they were debating. Good luck to any non-Rhode Island residents trying to interpret this one…

Dan Yorke plays the Chafee campaign’s latest-anti-Laffey ad, then plays a more complete audio of the “Cranston firefighter” incident. An aspiring pugilist is heard to say to Mayor Laffey, “Don’t you ever talk to the wife of one of my guys. I’ll knock you right out.”
Senator Lincoln Chafee notes that the aspiring pugilist's remarks indicate that Mayor Laffey improperly addressed somebody's wife.
Mayor Steve Laffey points out that it is clear on the tape that all he said was “please stop this right now”, directly to the aspiring pugilist, in an attempt to restore order at a meeting that had gotten chaotic.
Chafee: Why did the aspiring pugilist mention somebody's wife?
Laffey says it's because the aspiring pugilist was lying; the incident has been investigated and reported on by local media. It's been confirmed that he stepped in an attempt to get people to calm down. Laffey then addresses Senator Chafee and says the personal attacks aren’t serving him well, the lies in his commercials are plain wrong, and he won’t do anything like that in his ads.
Chafee says if it’s not Laffey on the audio and video, he’ll pull the ads.

Yorke plays a more complete version of the 3rd part of the Chafee campaign's latest anti-Laffey ad, where Laffey says the older political elites in the Republican party, who are not as interested in winning as they are in grabbing some legal work and hanging out at parties, are luckily getting older and dying. Yorke notes that the Senator demanded an apology and Laffey offered one right away. So why has the Chafee campaing persisted with this issue?
Chafee said Laffey made the remark because he was angry that he sought the endorsement of the Republican party, but failed.
Laffey says he never sought the state party endorsement.
Chafee says he knows Laffey talked to people about getting the endorsement.
Laffey says name one.
Chafee says he can’t name anyone specific, but of course Laffey wanted the endorsement.

Yorke asks Laffey an incident like this has to do with his personality or if it's an anomaly.
Laffey answers it’s an anomaly. That’s why he apologized. National guys in the Chafee campaign have convinced him to go negative with this stuff.
Chafee says there are negative ads all over the place. He objects to the Laffey ad that says that Lincoln Chafee would give social security to illegal aliens. No illegal immigrant would ever get social security benefits under any program that he supports.

Yorke asks Chafee if he believes that Laffey’s apology was hollow.
Chafee believes that when you couple it with other instances, like the Jackvony pixelation, it shows a pattern.
Laffey responds that the Jackvony pixelation shows a sense of humor.
Chafee: It wasn’t funny.
Laffey: Didn’t you pixelate me out of a picture at the Follies?
Yorke: The Follies is different.

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"Laffey then addresses Senator Chafee and says the personal attacks aren’t serving him well"

This was the only part of the debate where I really thought Laffey dropped the ball. He SHOULD have said "...these personal attacks aren’t serving you well and I hope you keep them up because they're showing the voters that you're willing to do anything and say anything, truthful or not, in order to win."

Posted by: Greg at August 17, 2006 8:14 PM

Laffey kicked Chafee's ass today.

Posted by: Henry Gondorff at August 17, 2006 8:54 PM


You are right in one sense. On the other hand Laffey doesn't have to say what the people are thinking anyway.

Gondorf... you're 100% right.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at August 17, 2006 9:37 PM

Laffey, a gazillion, Chafee, zero.
I can't wait to see how anthony spins this one. Without a doubt, Laffey rocked the face of this debate. Someone should tell Senator Chafee the problem with lie-filled ads is that the lies end up catching up with you.

Posted by: Lorelai G. at August 17, 2006 10:44 PM

I wish Mayor Laffey would refer to Senator Chaffee as 'Senator' instead of 'Mr.' No matter how I feel about an official, I refer to them by title.

Posted by: taxpayer at August 17, 2006 10:47 PM

As an apparent supporter of the current Senator, I wish you would at least spell "Chafee" correctly!

As for the title non-issue, I think "Outgoing Incumbent Junior Senator Chafee" would suffice nicely.

BTW ... does it seem that the Chafee folks are rather fixated on that whole pixellation thing? They do know that it's still on the website for the sole reason that we know it erks them so much, right? I loved Laffey's comeback on that one! Out of the ballpark!

Posted by: Will at August 18, 2006 3:58 AM

"I wish Mayor Laffey would refer to Senator Chaffee as 'Senator' instead of 'Mr.' No matter how I feel about an official, I refer to them by title."

I wish the pundits and political opponents would refer to President Bush as PRESIDENT instead of Mr., but they don't.

Posted by: Greg at August 18, 2006 6:52 AM

re: Senator vs Mister

Is that all you weaklings have? !

If you've ever listed to FORMAL SENATE PROCEEDINGS, when they call the role it's "Mr. Akaka, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Allard, Mr. Allen..."

Come up with some substance for crying out loud!

Posted by: Stretch Cunningham at August 18, 2006 10:39 AM

Why do I get the feeling this campaign is only Round 1 between these two guys? There's already so much blood on the floor that neither will beat Whitehouse. This will continue in 2010 for the gubernatorial nomination.
Assuming Chafee loses, he'll sit awhile and wait to run for governor. If Laffey loses, though, maybe he'll go after Jack Reed in '08 (a fight he'd be smart to avoid because Reed will hand him his skull).

Posted by: Rhody at August 18, 2006 11:51 AM

Will - thanks ffor catching my typo - and at such a late hour! I am supporting Laffey, by the way - signs on my lawn, contributions, and everything!

Greg gets my point exactly. I was going to add that about President vs Mr. - it's disrespectful to the office.

As to FORMAL SENATE PROCEEDINGS, they can call each other whatever they want - they are all senators.

As for substance, Mayor Laffey's posture needs a little tweaking. The 'definition of senatorial' question, in my opinion, was not exactly answered by the Mayor. He went back to his 'sticking to the issues' posture. I like that he wants to stick to the issues, but I thought it was a good question, and I would like to know what he thinks about what his new job will entail. Sen. Chafee had a good answer, but it was a result of his experience in the position. In that regard, the question could appear to have been somewhat biased.

The next two debates, IMHO, will add a visual level to the mix. Body language will make a difference. Pointing and eye rolling will come across louder than words.

Posted by: taxpayer at August 18, 2006 12:39 PM

Dear Greg,

Where have you been?

I guess Bob Dole referring to President Clinton as Mister Clinton in 1996 makes him a bad guy now.

I understand the Chaffee message here: Laffey doesn't get a checkmark in the little box next to "plays well with others". However, everything has its limits.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at August 19, 2006 10:07 AM