Pigs, Dogs, Fish and Frogs. Oh My!

10/11/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With pigs, pit bulls and fish-wrapping now all the rage on the presidential campaign trail, why not add scary frogs to the pile.

Long before Karl Rove put his name on the politics of distraction, a top Republican operative who specializes in electing weak candidates once explained to me how you derail a powerful foe who's winning on issues. He called it the ugly frog routine.

Ugly frogs in this game can be anything the opposing candidate said or did that, out of context, puts them on the defense.

"Stick that frog right in their face, shake it all around, and say, 'Here, look at this BIG UGLY FROG,'" the GOP consultant said. "Then, as they defend themselves and explain the context, real quick grab another ugly frog. Repeat often until they've spent most of the campaign reacting to your agenda."

John McCain's team has been playing the ugly frog routine against Barack Obama almost daily, starting with the Paris Hilton celebrity advertisement, forcing the Democrats to react to a barrage of silly attacks.

How do you fight the ugly frog routine, I asked this practitioner of the political dark arts. "Get your own frogs," he said. "Stay off defense."

Craig blogs daily at