Tim Cahill Responds to RGA Attack Ads

For the past two weeks Tim Cahill has been under a withering attack by the Republican Governors Association. Backed by a massive million dollar ad campaign, the ads are everywhere and likely to continue for weeks.

Last week, Cahill responded with a quick web only Scott Brown style response from his kitchen. Today, Cahill released another more polished rebuttal.


Cahill’s new ad comes in two parts. The first half clearly lays out who is behind the ad campaign – the RGA – and introduces its villain, Missisippi Governor and RGA president, Haley Barbour, overlayed with the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.

In the second part, in what is becoming standard for Massachusetts Republicans, Cahill rebuts the RGA ads sitting casually in what appears to be the front steps to his house.

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The second part of the ad is more successful than the first. In that part, Cahill does a quick 3 point rebuttal of the RGA ads which is succinct and convincing. He doesn’t address all the accusations in the RGA ads, particularly the campaign finance problems. This might be because those are essentially factual and can’t be rebutted so easily.

The strongest part of the ad is where he talks about ‘machine politics’. That will resonate with voters across the political spectrum.

Cahill’s Response Will Likely Alienate Conservative Voters

The first half doesn’t really work. Clearly there are a lot of Democratic voters for whom the prospect of a Republican attack machine fronted by a Mississippi Republican Governor is pretty scary. Unfortunately for Cahill, he has been busy running as a far right conservative, after throwing his Democratic supporters overboard.

Cahill hasn’t been just running as a conservative, he has been appealing to those to the right of Baker – tea party activists, socially conservative Mihos supporters and the like.

Up until recently, the talk on conservative talk radio and on Republican web sites was all about whether Baker or Cahill is the true conservative. This was especially true among social conservatives after he picked Tisei, who is openly gay, as his running mate.

This ad, if it gets any airplay, will end that speculation. Baker will be the only game in town for the tea party crowd.

To Republican voters, Haley Barbour is more hero than villain, and the Dukes of Hazzard Theme song doesn’t sound scary. The talk on RedMassGroup is representative of the reaction this ad is getting with Republican voters:

Haley Barbour was a great RNC Chairman, he’s been a Great Governor, and unlike Tim Cahill, he’s not a Lifetime Machine Hack.

and:

I like Haley Barbour. He was the RNC chairman for the 1994 revolution.  Probably the best chairman of my lifetime.  The guy knows what he’s doing.

The RGA attack ads put Cahill in a difficult spot. To counter them he’s going to have to spend his $3 million in campaign contributions. And he’s going to have to do that without alienating the voters he’s trying to appeal to, or he will be forced to run as more of a moderate. Either way, the RGA accomplishes its goal.

This Cahill ad makes him look more like a political opportunist than either a liberal or a conservative.  It’s going to end up alienating conservative voters, and while he may scare some liberal Democrats, they are voting for Patrick – if not Jill Stein.

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