Bob Peeler’s Official Runoff Attack Sheet
June 21, 2002
Ever since Lt. Governor Bob Peeler decided to radically change his campaign strategy by going negative against his opponent Mark Sanford in the runoff election in the GOP Governor’s race, I have been searching day and night for that all-important memo Peeler received from his campaign strategy team. After observing the unbelievable barrage of attacks on Mark Sanford from Bob Peeler since June 11th, I knew there had to be evidence floating out there. Well, I finally found it!
SHHHHHH! Can you keep this a secret?
Keep this quiet because it is top secret information. Heads are gonna roll in the Peeler campaign if this gets widespread distribution!
To: GOVERNOR-ELECT BOB PEELER
From: THE PONTIFICATING PEELER STRATEGY TEAM
Subject: THE OH CRAP PEELER RUNOFF ELECTION PLAN
Date: June 11, 2002 (a sad day in South Carolina history!)
Your High Milkness,
You can only imagine our shock and amazement as we sit here watching the election returns coming in from today’s primary race for Governor. For the past year, we have done everything we were supposed to do portraying you as a good ole boy who would make a great Governor. THIS SHOULD HAVE WORKED!
We were certain if we just stayed quiet about the real issues long enough that we could win this thing! We purposely stayed away from talking about any controversial issues so we wouldn’t rock the boat. We even put together some mumbo jumbo radio and television ads about how religious you are to win over that radical religious right vote!
Somehow, though, many of the idiots, er, we mean voters in South Carolina cast their vote for that liberal Republican Mark Sanford. We were gambling (we do believe in gambling, don’t we? Or did we decide to change our minds on that issue again?) on Sanford’s lack of name recognition across South Carolina to spell the end of his campaign. I guess his daily bombing of television and radio ads duped a lot of people to vote for him. He really does come across as likable and sincere. King Bob, that is going to seriously hurt you in the runoff election in two weeks.
We recommend an immediate change in political strategy to be implemented starting tonight in your victory speech. The following are a few points that you need to make as much as possible over the next two weeks:
BOB PEELER’S OFFICIAL RUNOFF ATTACK SHEET ON MARK SANFORD
1. Tell the public you want to focus on leadership in the runoff campaign, but actually use it as an opportunity to attack Mark Sanford’s voting record. This will distract attention away from your own lack of any substantive votes in the past eight years as Lt. Governor in the State Senate. You’ll keep the Sanford campaign so busy trying to answer all of these charges about his voting record that they will get off their own message.
2. Disavow any knowledge of third-party postcard mailings or ads even if there is evidence to prove this campaign was responsible for it. Distract attention away from these charges by asserting that the information in the mailings and ads seem to be an accurate portrayal of Mark Sanford’s voting record. We get the double whammy of deniability AND using it against him!
3. Question Mark Sanford’s loyalty to the Republican Party. Compare this runoff to the Bush-McCain Presidential election in 2000. After all, WE were the ones who were responsible for getting George W. Bush elected President and voters need to be reminded of that. We all know that Mark Sanford backed his mentor Sen. John McCain in that election. If we can resurrect the most bitter battle in the Republican Party in South Carolina history, then we will actually have a chance of winning this election. After all, Bush won, didn’t he? And so should we!
4. Cast doubt on Mark Sanford’s conservative credentials. Draw ideological distinctions by portraying Mark Sanford as a liberal who supported Bill Clinton on tax increases. The only way we can do this and get away with it is by narrowly focusing on specific aspects of Sanford’s votes in Congress. Nevermind that his overall voting record in his six years in Congress was decidedly conservative.
5. Act tough and aggressive in the way you talk and act, King Bob! Your nice-guy soft image does not contrast with Mark Sanford enough. Let the voters know how rough and ready you can be!
6. Ditch the khaki pants and soft shirt you sported during the primary campaign. This runoff is a whole new ballgame. Start wearing dark-blue suits and a powder-blue tie. People might be reminded of President George W. Bush when they see you dressed like this! This is good because President Bush is a good image in the minds of voters. (Can you cut the moustache, though?)
7. When people question your change in strategy, tell them that you want to clearly define the differences between yourself and Mark Sanford.
Some differences to point out about Mark Sanford include:
veterans issues - he is against veterans; you are for them
homeland security - he is for terrorists; you are against them
abortion rights - he is for abortion; you are against it
homosexuality - he is for homosexuality; you are against it
gambling - he is for it; you are against it
military - he loathes it; you love it
8. What 11th commandment?
9. When Mark Sanford starts defending himself against our attacks, claim that you are getting attacked too and taking it like a man. Accuse Mark Sanford of trying to distract the voters when he complains about negative campaigning. Be sure to use folksy cliches such as "I was born at night, but not last night."
10. Invoke the names Jim Hodges and Dick Harpootlian when Mark Sanford becomes critical of your criticism of his record. We need to convince people that our attacks on Mark Sanford are tame by comparison to what the Democrats are going to do. Meanwhile, we will keep pounding away with the attack ads until June 25th!
11. Use these key phrases in every conversation about the runoff campaign and with Mark Sanford, especially during debates:
“I like you.”
“I’m not saying negative things about anybody.”
“The tone of my campaign hasn’t changed.”
“People know me.”
“Mark Sanford is not a bad person.”
“This is clearly not personal.”
“I like Mark Sanford.”
“Mark Sanford is a good friend of mine.”
“These issues are fair.”
12. Regardless of how you did, ALWAYS claim victory after debates.
13. To squelch any talk about your lack of a voting record while Lt. Governor, start calling it a “part-time job.”
14. If Mark Sanford receives any endorsements from other political figures in South Carolina, immediately dismiss the endorsement as inconsequential. On the other hand, any endorsements of your campaign should be paraded around and heralded as wise and intelligent leaders.
15. Although you have no military experience yourself, go after Mark Sanford's voting record on military issues by calling him “unfit to be Governor.” Although our ad stripping a soldier is insulting because of the imagery and lies about Mark Sanford’s voting record, assure people that all the information in the ad is fair and documented.
16. Invoke the name of popular two-term South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell often when describing what kind of Governor you would be. The only way this could hurt us is if Campbell himself endorses Mark Sanford. But that’s not gonna happen during this runoff!
17. Bring up how Mark Sanford is for breast cancer because of his vote against funding, although he voted for over $832 million in breast cancer research while a Congressman. Also remind people that Mark Sanford took farm subsidies although he voted against them. Overlook the fact that Sanford encouraged his family not to accept it.
18. Sanford will claim that his votes are based his sound conservative principles, but we must accuse Mark Sanford of being a maverick who would shut down the state government if he was elected Governor.
19. Spend borrowed money and say anything you want about Mark Sanford, no matter how incredulous, because the gullible voters of South Carolina will believe it.
20. If this plan doesn’t get you the Republican nomination for Governor, then it was nice knowing you. Your political career is officially over!