POLITICS
08/07/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Conservatives Wonder If Negative Ads Could Reduce McCain's Stature

Over at the Atlantic, Marc Ambinder has an interesting reaction from former McCain strategist John Weaver to the Arizona Republican's new ad attacking Barack Obama's celebrity status (complete with references to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears). Calling it "childish," Weaver also claims that harping on Obama "reduces McCain on the stage."

He's not the only conservative to wonder about that possibility.

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum says McCain's latest ad only addresses one type of voter, while perhaps turning off others. "McCain goes into this election with two problems. One is that the Republican base is demoralized and unenthusiastic," Frum said. "The other is that the Republican base is shrunk while the number of independents has grown. The strategic dilemma he faces is to energize his core constituency while swinging the much larger centrist constituency [over to him].

"This ad does a good job of energizing that base, reminding them of things they might not like about Barack Obama," Frum added. "But I wonder whether more offshore drilling is going to be such a big issue with independent voters. And I wonder whether there is not a risk that if McCain's own ads are more consistently negative than Obama's, that he forfeits some of the advantage and stature he's got over Obama."

The Washington Post's Chris Cilizza has more over at The Fix blog. In addition to some who praise McCain's latest ad, he quotes some anonymous Republican sources who criticize the campaign, variously, for taking "one wild swing at Obama after another" and "talking to the press pack, not voters."