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Friday, January 09, 2004

Argus Leader continues con job
The 1/8/04 Argus Leader editorial regarding the 2004 Senate will disappear from their web site next Thursday, so I am presenting it here:

Keep Senate race clean
Argus Leader Editorial Board
published: 1/8/2004
Voting records, issues, representation are fair game for Daschle, Thune

If the 2002 U.S. Senate race was the most vicious and divisive South Dakota has ever seen, what can we expect of this year's version?

Better, we hope. South Dakotans are weary.

But that depends on the candidates and their supporters.

Monday night former U.S. Rep. John Thune ended speculation and announced he'd run against Sen. Tom Daschle.

The race gives South Dakotans two qualified candidates, Thune the Republican and Daschle the Democrat. It also sends shivers through South Dakotans, who remember Thune's 2002 race against Sen. Tim Johnson. Johnson won that by only 524 votes, after each spent $6 million on their campaigns and third-party groups spent an estimated $12 million on each.

That made for a $36 million Senate campaign here in South Dakota. And much of that money went to tearing down the candidates, rather than examining positions and promoting the candidates' attributes.

Daschle already has started airing campaign commercials and says he plans to raise $10 million.

But even before that, the Club for Growth ran anti-Daschle commercials, and other opponents announced fund-raising efforts - before Republicans officially had a candidate.

Just as the 2002 election was seen as a referendum on President Bush and a battleground for control of the Senate, this race might even be more so, because Daschle's position as minority leader has made him a high-profile opponent of the administration. For Republicans, this is just as much about voting Daschle out as it is voting Thune in.

So does that mean we have to go through 2002 all over again?

"One question should guide this election," said Daschle. "What is best for South Dakota?"

Yes, and surely Thune would agree with that. It's how the candidates go about that will determine the kind of campaign we have.

Are voting records fair game? Of course. They're important.

Are positions on issues fair game? Absolutely. We need to know.

Are successes and failures in Congress on South Dakota - and other - issues fair game? Yes. We ought to know who has done a better job of promoting and defending our interests.

But when the commercials and letters start exaggerating and telling half-truths and misleading voters, they've gone too far.

When they start using innuendo - instead of facts - to plant doubt, they've gone too far.

When they start questioning character and patriotism, they've gone too far.

Candidates need to pay heed. So do their third-party supporters, generators of much of the mud-slinging. Negative campaigning is used, because it tends to work. But South Dakotans are election-weary after the 2002 race. They're bitter, angry and disgusted.

Both candidates are popular. Thune won his last two U.S. House races with more than 70 percent of the vote. Daschle has won seven statewide elections, his past two Senate terms with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Any negative campaigning is going to be seen as a personal attack - not only against the candidates but their supporters, as well.

That's one reason the last Senate campaign tore this state apart. We can't afford that so soon after the last race.

For the benefit of the candidates - and especially for the benefit of South Dakotans - keep it clean.

Here is my emailed reaction I sent to Randell Beck the morning of 1/8/04:

Randell,

The Argus Leader opinion piece today (Keep Senate race clean) is a finger
pointing at others, but no responsibility for the Argus Leader’s role in the
dirty politics of late.

Example: Today’s Argus has a letter to the editor titled “Medicare”. It ends
with:

“Even the lobbying firm former Rep. John Thune works for, Arent Fox, got a
piece of the action. It looks like Thune is getting his Christmas bonus a
little early this year.”

It was David Kranz that started this innuendo.

Example: The NRA endorsement of Thune in 2002, which was based on voting
records. David Kranz ran a column the day before planting the Tony Dean attack
against the NRA. The day after the endorsement, Kranz prints accusations that
the NRA are liars by Tony Dean and also by Democrat partisan extremist Clark
Butler.

I sent Kranz Johnson’s voting record and none of it was ever printed. Instead
Kranz writes two columns giving Tony Dean credit for neutralizing the NRA.

I sent you all the documentation that backs this up and you still acted dumb
about it on Straight Talk last night.

You should clean up the Argus Leader’s act before you start throwing stones at others.

As of yet, I have not received any response from Randell Beck to this email. It is obvious that David Kranz frequently manufactures dirt to throw at Republicans as he did on the gun issue during the 2002 Senate race. Kranz created the anti-NRA Tony Dean whose false accusations could not be supported by Johnson’s voting records. Even though I sent Kranz copies of the Congressional Record, he never did print them. Doing so would have destroyed one of Johnson’s main campaign strategies. It is apparent that Kranz was part of the implementation of the Tony Dean anti-NRA strategy.

Now…please note this statement from the above mentioned Argus Leader editorial:

Any negative campaigning is going to be seen as a personal attack - not only against the candidates but their supporters, as well.

That's one reason the last Senate campaign tore this state apart. We can't afford that so soon after the last race.

For the benefit of the candidates - and especially for the benefit of South Dakotans - keep it clean.

If the Argus Leader were serious about this, they would be taking David Kranz off the election. SouthDakotaPolitics web site has a 1/8/04 post titled, “ARGUS TAKES CUES FROM DC BIGWIGS”. Jason details Kranz deceptive use of Sen. Don Frankenfeld, of Rapid City in an Argus Leader David Kranz report.

Here is an excerpt from that Kranz 1/6/04 report:

In a phone interview, Frankenfeld said he was upset with the tone of the 2002 Senate race and called on the candidates to avoid that from happening again.

Note Kranz was covering the Thune announcement during the 1/5/04 Lincoln Day event. Why did he use a phone interview with Frankenfeld, instead of covering those who were in attendance? Obviously Kranz deceptively wanted to put a negative spin on the Thune announcement. He pulled another Tony Dean, but this time with Don Frankenfeld. It is Kranz who is setting the negative tone in the current Senate campaign…the same as he did in the 2002 race with Tony Dean.

During the 1/7/04 Argus on Air segment of Straight Talk, Randell Beck attacked third party ads in his normal high and mighty self-righteous tone. The only two organizations that he mentioned specifically was the NRA and the Club for Growth, which are both conservative. I called in and defended the NRA and argued that David Kranz used Tony Dean to create negative false attacks against the NRA whose endorsement of John Thune was primarily based on voting records. When I mentioned the fact that I sent copies of the Congressional Record to both David Kranz and Tony Dean without any action, Randell Beck said he didn’t know what to say about that and my line was cut off.

Why can’t the NRA tell South Dakota that Tom Daschle did not support the Second Amendment as well as John Thune? Why can’t the Club for Growth remind South Dakota that Tom Daschle voted against tax cuts? Because these issues make Daschle look bad, the Argus Leader needs to attack those that discuss them and paint them in a bad light. Again it is the Argus Leader who is creating the negative tone against those who want to discuss issues and voting records. It is doubly insulting to read their editorial, “Keep Senate race clean”. What a con job!

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