Can the tone of the recall campaign get worse? Just wait. Ken Khachigian, a veteran Republican strategist, warns that Schwarzenegger should brace himself for what has become the Democrats’ trademark tactic. In football it is penalized as a “late hit,” but in politics it is often rewarded with success. George W. Bush received such a hit in the final weekend of the 2000 campaign — the revelation of his drunk driving arrest 24 years earlier. That probably contributed to an unusual development: Late-deciding voters, who usually break against the incumbent party, broke for Vice President Gore in 2000.
California Republicans have experienced late hits three times in the past 11 years. In 1992 Bruce Herschensohn narrowly lost a Senate race against Barbara Boxer when it was revealed on the Friday before the election that he and his girlfriend and another couple had visited a strip club. In 1994 Michael Huffington narrowly lost a Senate race against Feinstein when, a few days before the election, it was revealed that he had hired an illegal immigrant as a nanny. In 1998 Darrell Issa — he is now a congressmen; his $1.6 million funding of the recall petition drive produced this recall election — lost a Senate primary when it was revealed that he had embellished his military record.
A late hit by the Davis campaign against Schwarzenegger cannot come so late that there is no time for another such hit, one against Davis’s other problem, Bustamante. This could get even uglier.
The late hit on Schwarzenegger came today, but as Steve Hayward notes, it may have been seriously deflected by the maximum blitz that Rush Limbaugh sustained over the past two days:
The Left can’t even keep out of the way of its own attacks, because the Groping Arnold story is being completely eclipsed by the Rush Limbaugh controversy, which is leading the network hourly radio and TV news broadcasts this morning. You’d think the media hive would have sorted out their priorities better than this, and timed these bombshells better.
Exactly. I never knew Buddy Ryan worked at the DNC.