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October 25, 2006
Running On Honesty

Many pundits analyze the midterms as a referendum on the war in Iraq. They explain the poor polling for Republicans in a growing dissatisfaction with the progress shown on that front, and some Republicans have tried emphasizing other parts of the Republican platform to counter the trend. Not so here in Minnesota, where Mark Kennedy has decided to make sure his potential constituents know exactly where he stands:

As his fellow Republicans try to distance themselves from the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, Senate candidate Mark Kennedy is airing a TV ad in which he squarely states his support — "even though I know it may not be what you want to hear."

The 30-second ad, running statewide for at least a week, is Kennedy's latest attempt to catch up to Democratic front-runner Amy Klobuchar.

Looking into the camera, Kennedy acknowledges that "we've made some mistakes in Iraq" but says that "leaving Iraq now will create a breeding ground for new attacks on America."

Political observers said Tuesday that they not seen an ad like it. Just a day earlier, the White House acknowledged that President Bush was dropping his familiar "stay the course" phrase in talking about the war.

Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman with close ties to national GOP leadership, said he believed Kennedy's ad was unique.

It comes as no surprise to those who know Kennedy and have talked with him that he strongly supports the effort in Iraq. His honesty and forthrightness also come as no great shock. Kennedy has not won three terms in Congress by pretending to be something he is not. He doesn't lie, and he doesn't duck tough issues.

Is this smart? Probably not. Minnesota may be a battleground state, but the war isn't very popular here. Kennedy gives a good explanation of his position, but it won't convince many here who don't already support the effort in Iraq, and those people already support Kennedy's bid for the Senate. It may motivate more Republicans to turn out, but it won't carry the center, at least not on its own.

The only people who will be surprised by this are people who don't know Minnesotans. I'm a native Californian, and the culture is just a little different here. Minnesotans don't appreciate professional politicking in the way some of us in the blogosphere expect from professional politicians. The state that put power into the hands of Paul Wellstone, Norm Coleman, Jesse Ventura, Hubert Humphrey, and Tim Pawlenty has its own ideas about political values, and tapdancing doesn't usually win out over honesty.

So perhaps Kennedy made a mistake in talking straight about Iraq, and it might cost him a few independents, or even more than a few. I think that Kennedy himself will tell you that if he cannot speak honestly about his beliefs and his policies in order to win, then he'd prefer to lose and keep his honor. It gives Americans a rare opportunity to see character and honor in politics, and Minnesota yet another opportunity to endorse it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 25, 2006 5:40 AM

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» Web Reconnaissance for 10/25/2006 from The Thunder Run
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention. [Read More]

Tracked on October 25, 2006 9:34 AM

» Video: Mark Kennedy’s Iraq campaign ad from Bill's Bites
Video: Mark Kennedy’s Iraq campaign adAllahpundit It’s getting plenty of buzz. As it should: it’s not every day you watch an ad that ends with the words, “I know it may not be what you want to hear.” He might [Read More]

Tracked on October 25, 2006 10:43 AM


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