Governor's race turns ugly as candidates turn to attack ads

Governor's race turns ugly as candidates turn to attack ads

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"I don't think in most cases it wins a campaign. It's an act of desperation," said Mike Cohen of Ackermann PR. "I don't think in most cases it wins a campaign. It's an act of desperation," said Mike Cohen of Ackermann PR.
"They're more memorable as a result of the complexity and also more entertaining," said Dr. Elizabeth Avery, (right) an assistant professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Tennessee. "They're more memorable as a result of the complexity and also more entertaining," said Dr. Elizabeth Avery, (right) an assistant professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Tennessee.

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The campaign for Tennessee governor has degenerated to a series of attack ads by the candidates.

In one ad, a spokesman for Zach Wamp says, "This Bill Haslam ain't our guy. He's a billionaire oil man who price-gouged working Tennesseans when we were hurting the most."

Haslam hits back, saying, "Zach Wamp knows I support the Second Amendment. He knows that Knoxville, where I'm the mayor, has the lowest property tax rate in over fifty years."

Then Haslam turns the attack on Wamp saying, "He wants to talk about my money because he doesn't want to talk about what he's been doing with yours, spent his career in Washington, broke his promise on term limits and special interest contributions."

But do attack ads really work?

"You see this in a lot of campaigns all over the country, partially because they think it works," said Mike Cohen of Ackermann PR. "I don't think in most cases it wins a campaign. It's an act of desperation."

Cohen has worked on several campaigns. He admits he's a Haslam supporter, but says even in Haslam's original defense ad there is a jab at Wamp when Haslam says, "That's Washington-style politics, not Tennessee." 

"That's a total gig at Wamp, just a little reminder that Zach's in Congress," Cohen said.

A radio ad put out by the Roane County Tea Party in support of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey attacks both of Ramsey's opponents.

"Bill Haslam was a member of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-gun coalition and prevented handgun permit holders from carrying handguns in Knoxville city parks," the ad claims. 

"The Roane County Tea Party can not support anyone who voted for the TARP Act as Zach Wamp did," the ads also says.

"They're more memorable as a result of the complexity and also more entertaining," said Dr. Elizabeth Avery, an assistant professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Tennessee. "Whereas voters repeatedly say, 'I don't like attack advertising and I don't like negative advertising,' still, it does linger."

Dr. Avery added that the frontrunner is less likely to run an attack ad, but "research shows that once one candidate is attacked they must respond and do so quickly to counteract the negative image out there."

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