Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beating Democrats: The Case of Heather Wilson & Melissa Hart

"Plunge the Verbal Dagger in his heart . . ."

Five years ago, Congresswoman Heather A. Wilson, of Albuquerque's First District, ran against a Democrat named Richard Romero. Because Romero was heavily financed by national Democrats and was a Hispanic running in a district with a heavy Hispanic flavor, he had many things going for him.

Then, Romero mentioned in a debate that he was opposed to capital punishment.

Within days, Heather Wilson had a commercial out that said, "For child molesters who murder their victims, Richard Romero opposes the death penalty." At that point, down went the Romero candidacy.

She took the verbal dagger and plunged it into his political heart.

Heather Wilson's commercial was accurate, and she had every right to run it. Romero deserved to lose because on a critical issue he was out-of-step with his constituents.

In 2008, Heather Wilson almost certainly will the Republican candidate for the New Mexico U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici. Her opponent might be Bill Richardson, current governor of the state and a second-tier candidate for the presidential nomination. He would be a tough opponent, but no one is betting against Mrs. Wilson, an Air Force veteran and a Rhodes Scholar.

I hope people like Melissa Hart, who is running to get back the congressional seat in Pennsylvania's 4th district, will follow Heather Wilson's example. In 2006, Melissa lost her seat to Jason Altmire, a supposedly moderate Democrat, who beat Congresswoman Hart about the head and shoulders with various charges -- including accusations that she was a stooge for President Bush and weak on veteran's issues.

Melissa Hart is a "turn the other cheek" Christian, which certainly isn't a bad thing to be. However, when running against a pit bull like Altmire, the kinder and gentler approach doesn't work. To get her seat back, she will need to attack Altmire, who makes the task easier for her by talking out of both sides of his mouth.

For example, in the campaign against Hart, Altmire (unaffectionately known as "The Fat Boy") said he was against setting a "timetable" for retreat from Iraq. He said he would rely on the "commanders on the ground." Then, when he got into Congress, he listened to the man he'd called his "campaign manager," John Murtha, and voted for a timetable.

He also talked about how bad President Bush's Medicare Plan D (insurance for seniors) was, implying that it was somehow harmful to seniors. In fact, my wife and I are both on Plan D, and it has saved us more than $1,000 each every year.

Altmire also talked in the campaign about how he is "pro-life." However, in Congress, he joined with Murtha and Pelosi to vote for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Since that would destroy embryos that are potentially viable, it's hard to see how it qualifies as "pro-life."

The Pennsylvania 4th is an unusual district. About two weeks ago, Melissa Hart told me, "You know how it is. You live there." In fact, she's 100% right; I do live in the 4th.

There's a belief that Jason Altmire would like to spread -- that he was the underdog and his 2006 victory was a total surprise. In fact, Democrats have a 50,000 voter edge in the 4th. At the same time, this is a conservative area, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-military.

To win her seat back, Melissa Hart must hammer away at Altmire. She won't need an extensive vocabulary, although she clearly has one. She needs to emphasize the issues I've noted, pointing out that Altmire is out-of-step with the 4th District. She needs to paint him -- accurately -- as a tool of people like Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, and "Pete" Stark. She must highlight how he is voting for measures, such as the timetable, that are harmful to American soldiers.

If someone like Jason Altmire wants to root for the enemy and against Gen. Petraeus and our soldiers, that's his right under the Constitution. But he shouldn't ask the voters of the 4th District to send him back to Congress. He could always go back to his old job of being a lobbyist for one of the nation's sleaziest health care empires.

For Republicans to win back the Congress -- and it's not unimaginable that they could -- they have to expose the Democrats for what they are: weak on national security and on other issues of real concern to voters. I'm sure there's a picture of Jason with Nancy Pelosi, and I'd recommend that Melissa display it on every possible occasion.


1 comment:

Christopher said...

I thought you might like this column by David Brooks. It shows what must be done to win elections now in days.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9906E0D71F3BF935A25753C1A9619C8B63&n=Top/Opinion/Editorials%20and%20Op-Ed/Op-Ed/Columnists/David%20Brooks

If you don't, you lose ala Hart.