The truth? Not only is this not the most negative campaign ever — it’s not the most negative campaign of your lifetime, unless you happen to be three years old.
Back in 2008, when I was an Obama spokesman in the general election, and worked in the Clinton war room during the primary, we were dogged by the same cries. The Obama and McCain camps were chastised by the late David Broder for our “personal bitterness and negativism.” Cindy McCain told us we were waging the “dirtiest campaign in American history.” And John McCain was running such a “fiercely negative” campaign, we were told, that his fellow Republicans were allegedly very worried about it.
The primary was no different. People forget now, but back then the Clinton campaign was accused of mud-slinging and dividing the party so often that we started a short-lived web site called AttackTimeline.com to chronicle the incoming negative charges we constantly received from our opponents. The purpose: to prove that we, too, were victims of all this negativity, so don’t put the blame squarely on us. And this was a primary.As noted before, the negativity of 2012 is minor compared with the Adams-Jefferson race of 1800. Here are mock attack ads based on actual statements from the campaign: