Susan Collins is a notoriously negative campaigner. She has the patina of being a good government moderate, so the narrative that she’s a nasty campaigner hasn’t sunk in with the traditional media, especially in Maine. However, one particularly nasty episode this week exposed Susan for what she is.
Last week, The Hill reported that Collins was planning to run a spurious negative campaign against Tom Allen. Her biggest issue was going to be Tom’s missed votes. Yes, after two terms in the U.S. Senate, this is her best issue:
An aide to Collins, speaking on background, said that before last week, the senator’s campaign had polled on the issue of Allen’s missed votes twice, and both times, “and not surprisingly, it’s an issue that polls really well for us.”
The aide said that the senator includes a line in her stump speech when addressing Republican-only crowds that mentions her perfect attendance.
“That’s the biggest applause line that she gets every time,” the aide said.
In front of mixed crowds, Collins adds a line about Allen’s 129 missed votes, and there are “audible gasps” from the crowd.
Audible gasps? Tom Allen has a 98% voting record over the past 10+ years. Now, of course, Collins doesn’t want to talk about her own votes — like her unwavering support for George Bush and the war in Iraq. Susan doesn’t want to compare the votes she’s taken with Tom, hence the diversion tactic.
Earlier this week, sticking to the Collins attack plan, the head of the Maine GOP attacked Allen for missing some votes. You can imagine the Collins campaign staff high-fiving when this nasty release went out. (Interestingly, it still seems that the Collins campaign staff is basically her U.S. Senate staff — yeah, they’re all on the federal payroll.) Here’s the GOP attack:
“October 2, 2007
“Congressman Tom Allen missed each of the three votes the House of Representatives held yesterday, bringing his missed votes total to 132. He also missed three days of votes for a fundraising [sic] trip to California two weeks ago. Over the last three weeks the House has only held votes on ten days — Congressman Allen has missed four of those days completely, for a total of 22 votes.
“Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis said, “Congressman Allen really seems to have lost interest in showing up to work. At the very least, he should tell his constituents why he is choosing to leave them unrepresented in Congress less than a year after he was reelected. For these and the many other days that Tom has skipped votes, Mainers deserve to know the answer to the question: Where was Tom?”
Maine’s got a strong hunting tradition. I’ve always been told that you never take a shot unless you know what your target is. Never, ever. So, talk about shoot first, ask questions later. Susan’s toadies at the Maine GOP later got the answer to their “Where was Tom?” question when they found out that Tom Allen was actually attending a funeral of a family member. Yes. Collins and the GOP attacked Tom for missing votes because he was at a funeral. The state GOP had to issue another statement, notably lacking an apology:
“October 2, 2007
“It has come to our attention that Congressman Tom Allen was in Bangor on Monday attending the funeral of a family member. Without question, the most difficult times in our lives are those in which we grieve the loss of family or friends. Our thoughts are with Congressman Allen and his family during this difficult time,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis.”
This episode indicates just how desperate Susan Collins is. She is going to run a very negative campaign because it’s all she can do. The Senate 2008 Guru nails it:
And, the If Ellis had instead said something to the effect of, “Hey, Maine Republicans including myself and Susan Collins tried to manufacture a sleazy, misleading attack against Tom Allen and it blew up in our faces. We are real jerks and apologize profusely,” I might be more content with Ellis’ fake remorse. In fact, nowhere in the addendum is there an apology for the attack! No, “Sorry we tried to exploit for cheap political gain a few missed votes while you were at a family funeral.” Nothing. Ellis should immediately lose his job and Susan Collins should immediately repudiate Ellis and the Maine Republican Party for this. Otherwise, since it was her sleazy, misleading attack that Ellis was simply advancing, we can take it as Collins’ tacit approval for Ellis’ disgusting remarks and subsequent lack of apology.
AMERICAblog has an Act Blue page for Tom Allen. Every dollar will help Tom defeat Susan and her pro-Iraq war, pro-Bush agenda.