Theres a dictum in

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October 23, 2002 3:21 a.m.

There’s a dictum in politics: when your opponent’s going down the tubes on his own, stand back, look high-minded, and watch him swirl. Which brings us to the South Dakota Senate race. In Monday night’s debate, challenger John Thune fell over himself charging — loosely, in the form of questions — that Tim Johnson was personally involved in orchestrating voter fraud in the western part of the state.

Thus Thune …

You hold a press conference and tell the people of South Dakota – come clean about what your involvement is with voter fraud in western South Dakota. I think the people of South Dakota need to know what the facts are. Who authorized this putting a bounty on voters? Who did you hire? Who was involved?

This tells you something pretty clearly. If the fraud issue were pulling Johnson down of its own weight, the logical move would be to avoid such extravagant charges. Since it’s not, he’s not avoiding them. Rather, he’s pushing them as hard as he can, trying to win the campaign on this issue alone.

Today, Johnson called for both campaigns to forswear any and all negative ads for the remaining two weeks before election day. This is a pretty transparent tactic, since Thune needs to go negative much more than Johnson does right now, and has something — baseless or not — to go negative with. Still, a transparent tactic isn’t always a bad one.

In turn, Thune’s spokesperson, Christine Iverson responded with a classic ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ rejoinder.

Thus Christine …

Today, we ask Tim Johnson to release the following information: all
correspondence and E-mail between his campaign and the South Dakota
Democrat Party; all cell and phone records between the Johnson campaign
and the South Dakota Democrat Party; all records of meetings between the
Johnson campaign and the South Dakota Democrat Party; and all financial
transactions between the Johnson campaign and the South Dakota Democrat
Party related to the voter fraud investigation, people currently under
investigation and those indicted. There is more to running a clean campaign than running positive ads. A clean campaign includes preserving the integrity of the election system. If the Johnson campaign has nothing to hide they will have no problem releasing information about their work with the state party on voter
registration efforts. Together, we can give the people of South Dakota a
positive campaign, both on the airwaves and in the ballot booth on
Election Day.

Note the puerile use of ‘Democrat party’ in place of the correct usage, ‘Democratic party.’ Iverson has developed quite a rep in recent months for bullying and slashing behavior on the campaign trail and she seems inclined to go out with a flourish.

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