Pivoting from a deflating robocall narrative in the Mainstream Media, the Conservatives have released a couple of ads today for news reaction and twitter convulsion. The ads themselves were released late last night on YouTube just under the by-election blackout required on party advertising. For today, they’ll play as earned media among reporters who will either be intrigued or outraged by the ads. I’m told that there’s a real media buy behind the ads and they’ll play in markets where the Liberals pose the main competition to the Conservatives.
Why attack an interim leader of a third-place party? First, nobody is foolish enough to dismiss Bob Rae’s real plan to run for permanent leader of the Liberal Party. His office has dropped “interim” in most communications and there are billboards in Toronto with his face trying to coax left-wing votes back into the Liberal camp. I cannot remember any time when the “interim” leader of a party was featured so heavily in party communications and advertising. It seems that both the Conservatives and the Liberals understand that Bob Rae wants to be Canada’s next Prime Minister. As for third party status? Most observers believe that the Liberal Party will rebound somewhat and may even take over as the second place party. If media attention is any gauge, the gathering of flacks at January’s Liberal convention was something to behold.
Further, the NDP doesn’t have a leader yet and running ads against Nycole Turmel would just seem odd, wouldn’t it? Odd in a way that isn’t at all similar to running ads against Rae.
In January, Bob Rae invited a debate on his record. Today, the Conservatives are showing that they’re all to eager to have that debate. Why now? It is never too early to define one’s political opponent. Also, advertising rates on television are much cheaper at this time of year.
UPDATE: Bob Rae reacts,
The Liberals will be asking Canadians to help them fight back against the Conservative attack ads.
“We’ll fight fire with fire,” Liberal interim leader Bob Rae’s spokesman Dan Lauzon told HuffPost. “They want to talk economic record? Stephen Harper took a $13 B surplus and turned it into the biggest deficit in Canadian history ($56 billion), added $125 billion to the national debt and since he became Prime Minister, 270,000 more Canadians are out of work.”
The scale of that response will depend on how generous Canadians will be in our appeal to fight back, Lauzon said.
“Of course, the people of Toronto-Danforth will get the first chance to respond today – and tonight’s conservative results will speak volumes of how these kinds of attacks are perceived by voters,” he added.
Campaigning in the Toronto-Danforth riding, Rae appeared eager to defend his record as Ontario premier and unphazed by the Conservatives attack ads which will officially begin airing Tuesday.
“I started subways, they destroyed them; I build social housing, they destroy it; I build people up. They tear them down… Plus the Blue Jays won the world series twice when I was Premier,” Rae said.
Ok, now he’s taking credit for the Jays winning the World Series?