Watters: GOP candidates should stop the internal attacks

Arabella Watters

In the newest installment of a series of attack advertisements Newt Gingrich has created to undermine former Massachusetts Governor and current Republican Partyfrontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign, one phrase lingers as a photo of Romney, captured at an unfortunately smug moment, fades into blackness: “Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney: he can’t be trusted.”

The advertisement was a was a not-so-subtle attack on Romney’s abortion stance. Most likely, Gingrich was retaliating against a Romney-endorsed advertisement attacking his platform.

Gingrich’s childish response is no shock. For months, members of the GOP have been spending the majority of their time trying to undermine each other’s campaigns instead of really focusing on their own platforms.

I don’t mind the Republican party making jabs at President Obama because it is to be expected. However, it is frustrating to watch them attack members of their own party.

At first, Gingrich’s statement sounds overly dramatic. Yes, the topic is abortion, a historically controversial issue that deserves a great deal of consideration from voters, but Romney’s decision to be either pro-choice or pro-life is not based on trust.

The attack adverstisements cheapen an important social issue into a mere campaign strategy.

Romney’s view on abortion(and he has expressed vehemence that he is pro-life, despite his refusal to sign an abortion pledge last fall) isn’t exactly relevant to his integrity as a candidate.

What should voters not trust him with? To make practical policies? To rescue our floundering economy? To serve as a good president?

Romney’s forte is also his greatest flaw. While he insists that he is a conservative, his middling opinions make him an easy target for attacks made by staunch conservatives.

While his moderation on hot-button issues like abortion make him a more appealing candidate for Democrats wavering about President Obama, he runs the risk of alienating extremely conservative voters.

In fact, the Republican Party has done most of President Obama’s job for him.

The majority of the attacks on Romney have come from fellow members of the GOP, ranging from jabs at his past as a venture capitalist to more ridiculous campaigns involving an incident with his pet dog over twenty years ago.

Attack videos have become so commonplace on the campaign trail that I would say they verge on the mundane.

The techniques that candidates use to make each other look bad are obvious and heavy-handed, but unfortunately, they also tend to work.

As a young voter, I try to not let myself be swayed by poorly produced 30-second clips made with the intention of presenting another candidate’s words in a grossly inaccurate fashion. However, I don’t think that I can say the same for the rest of the voting population.

I find the rapid increase in attack campaigns toward Romney to be useless. It is not that I don’t have my own doubts about him as a candidate, but I do believe that instead of spending their time attempting to take down Romney, the rest of the GOP candidates should attempt to further their own campaigns.

It is tedious to listen to decades-old dirt that has been dug up during the primary debates.

The infuriating thing about how much time the GOP spends attacking each other is that often, the campaigns work.

Voters’ minds are malleable to persuasion. Take Gingrich’s attempt to promote Romney as a pro-choice candidate. Romney still supports the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, yet the GOP is easily swayed, especially conservative southern Christian voters.

The reality is that Roe vs. Wade will probably not be overturned because abortion rights are now almost entirely legislated at the state level.

Spending time trying to steal away voters from Romney by touching on this issue is counterproductive. Yet, voters far to the right will be turned off by the possibility of Romney as a social moderate. I can only hope that they will not ignore the facts of Romney’s campaign and turn toward another candidate.

The primaries are often like a popularity contest: they are disgusting in their superficiality. Watching the candidates debate looks like a high school all student body election.

The Republican candidates should spend more of their time and campaign money trying to figure out how they’re going to fix the economy instead of wasting it on manipulative advertising campaigns to bash members of their own party.

I can only hope that this will happen sometime in the next 11 months.

Arabella Watters is a Medill freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]