Joel Rosenthal tells the fumbling Kristi Noem campaign to put on the big-girl pants and get back on message:
When the story broke and confronted by KELO, Kristi Noem did the right thing. She said she was not proud of her record, was working to improve, and wanted to talk about important issues other than her driving record.
The Noem campaign and Republicans now need to move on. Quit talking about driving records, theirs and others. Don’t make this a two day or two week story. Democrats will try to keep ginning this story but the candidate has answered and must resist all impulses to keep talking about it [Joel Rosenthal, "Kristi—Get on Message," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2010.08.30].
Now as Rosenthal calmly notes, opposition research is par for the course in serious campaigns. But let’s make clear three points about the driving-record narrative and why it still tilts in Herseth Sandlin’s favor:
- The “family values” Republicans appear to value their opponents’ families as negative campaign targets. Noem attacks Herseth Sandlin’s husband and now her dad, just as Thune’s people gleefully attacked Daschle’s wife in 2004.
- Noem’s crimes aren’t just the traffic violations themselves; they are six failures ot appear in court and two arrest warrants. Everybody cited in these burgeoning attacks has broken the law; Noem demonstrated even greater arrogance by skipping court, as if she was just too good to show up before the judge and take responsibility for her crime.
- KELO launched the driving record story… and they even opened with the gubernatorial candidates’ tickets, which dings Dem Scott Heidepriem slightly worse than GOP Dennis Daugaard. The stories about Lars and chief of staff Gould are coming straight from the Noem machine. This part doesn’t matter quite as much to me, since facts are facts regardless of the source. But I hear enough Noem apologists making the baseless claim that the Noem-warrants story came straight from the SHS camp that it’s worth pointing out the lack of equivalence.
Back in June, I said it was a bad sign for the Noem campaign that they were hiring Josh Shields as their campaign manager. Josh Shields—you know, the guy who helped Blake Curd burn up more money than Noem and Chris Nelson combined to come in last.
And now Josh “she was trying to make up time over flat country” Shields is doing everything he can to turn another rising star into a lump of coal. If she wants to regain her momentum, Noem had better send young Shields over to Rosenthal’s house for some schooling, fast.
But in the end, why yes, we are left with a long list of lawbreakers. We’re all in glass houses, and we’re all throwing stones. If you’ve sent either Kristi or Stephanie money, or if you’ve so much as shaken their hands, you’ll probably see your criminal record published in the newspaper by November 2, too.
So let’s be consistent. Require Herseth Sandlin’s chief of staff Tessa Gould to resign from the campaign over her infraction. Require Lars Herseth to resign from being Stephanie’s dad. Require Kristi Noem to resign from her position as state legislator and from her campaign for the House.
And require Josh Shields to resign for driving another Republican campaign into the ditch.