BRUTAL ARIZONA ATTACK AD IS SHORT, BUT HAS LONG POLITICAL HISTORY
By William Boardman Email address removed
The 30-second attack ad begins with a shot of the U.S. Senate candidate approving it. The rest of the ad is a close-up showing a composed, mature woman making an unsupported, inaccurate, inflammatory, scripted, personal attack on the candidate's opponent. The complete text:
There was an angry pounding on the door, in the middle of the night.
I'm a single mom. I feared for my kids and for myself.
It was Richard Carmona and I was his boss.
Carmona is not who he seems.
He has issues with anger, with ethics and with women.
I have testified to this under oath to Congress.
Richard Carmona should never, ever be in the U.S. Senate.
The candidate is six-term Rep. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, 50, who put up the ad statewide in Arizona, in Spanish as well as English, on October 11, at a time when he appeared to be about three points behind in the polls. Amplified by a national Republican website, this is the harshest attack so far in an increasingly vituperative campaign. And despite its falsehoods (see below), media like USA Today continue to give it free, uncritical, and unrebutted replay.
The candidates for Arizona's open Senate seat are competing hard for the women's vote as well as the Latino vote, giving the ad particular potency as it pits a woman of Cuban heritage against a Democrat who is a man of Puerto Rican descent.
The ad's target is Dr. Richard Carmona, 63, who was President Bush's Surgeon General for one term (2002-2006) and who is running as a Democrat in his first run for public office. In 2006, Republicans asked him to be their candidate for Congress and he refused. The seat was won by Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ.
The day after the Flake campaign ad launched, Dr. Carmona responded at a news conference that his accuser had "lied." And in an 11 minute interview with a quietly hostile and uninformed interviewer on Arizona Republic's Channel 12 in Phoenix, Dr. Carmona calmly rejected all allegations and called on Rep. Flake to pull the ad "because it's false." Arizona Republic has endorsed Rep. Flake.
Attacker and Candidate Were Colleagues Under Bush
The woman in the ad is Dr. Cristina V. Beato, a former Bush administration Acting Assistant Secretary of Health, U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) (2003-2005), when she was Dr, Carmona's superior and supervisor most of that time. Her nomination to be full Assistant Secretary stalled in 2004 over the reliability of her resume. Given the number of apparently false claims in the resume, the Senate never formally considered her nomination.