Political campaigns: Experience is a teacher (alas)

  • Article by: GAIL COLLINS , New York Times
  • Updated: July 16, 2014 - 11:32 AM

Based on this year’s gaffes alone, here are some rules to run by.

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Is this the hog of the sort an Iowa candidate bragged about castrating? No, probably not.

Photo: Mike Groll • Associated Press,

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The 2014 election year is just kicking into gear, but we’ve learned so much already. Among the political pointers for candidates of the future:

 

Do not attempt to curry favor with the voters by changing your name:

Scott Fistler tried to improve his extremely remote chance of winning the Democratic congressional nomination in a largely Hispanic Arizona district by legally changing his name to Cesar Chavez. After a relative of the deceased farm labor leader filed a complaint, Fistler/Chavez was thrown off the ballot. The disappointed ex-candidate told reporters that politics is “a vicious game.”

 

… although it’s totally fair to go with the one you’ve already got.

Beleaguered Democrats in Texas are nurturing at least faint hopes for their attorney general candidate, Sam Houston. “I try not to be so cynical to think that people just go in and vote for a name,” Houston said.

 

Try not to run ads with pictures of local residents who are actually Parisian office workers.

Mike Rounds, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota, unveiled a video in which he bragged about how much the rest of the country could learn from the folks who live in his state. It was illustrated with stock photos of models portraying wholesome average citizens, one of whom turned out to be a woman holding a pen in an office in Paris.

 

… or European coal miners.

Alison Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, sent reporters copies of an ad she planned to run expressing her wrath at President Obama’s new clean air rules and showing an angry-looking miner. The man was actually a Ukrainian model holding up a piece of coal. Grimes campaign aides said they had discovered the problem themselves and replaced it with a picture of an American model holding up a piece of coal.

 

… or maybe you should just take the pictures yourself.

Joni Ernst, the Republican Senate candidate in Iowa, became famous for her video bragging that she had spent her youth on a farm castrating hogs. She urged voters to watch the video in a posting that featured a stock photo of a pig from Denmark.

 

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