What Rose Garden?

It’s a campaign!

The press release Hillary Clinton just sent out about John Spencer’s attacks appears to mark her first overtly aggressive maneuver of this election cycle. It should serve as something of an alarm to the Spencer folks that, after the bumpy but ultimately easy ride against KT McFarland, life is about to become considerably more challenging.

“If comparing Senator Clinton to Osama bin Laden is what John Spencer’s ‘positive’ campaign looks like, what do his negative campaigns consist of?” Howard Wolfson said in the release. “Given John Spencer’s history he probably doesn’t consider a campaign negative until he threatens to murder his opponent. It’s unfortunately very clear that John Spencer is determined to run a negative, personal campaign against Senator Clinton.”

After the jump is the whole thing, which includes an early sampling of opposition research that, we’re guessing, isn’t all they’ve got.

— Jason Horowitz

UPDATE: Rob Ryan sends over this response:

“Senator Clinton is a “left-wing anti-defense liberal” that’s not being negative, it’s simply a fact. John Spencer wants to have numerous debates so Senator Clinton can personally explain her opposition to the Patriot Act, NSA wire-tapping and a host of other issues.”


“I’ve never ran a negative campaign, I run positive campaigns,” John Spencer claimed in an interview last night

If comparing people to Osama bin Laden, calling them a backstabber and phony, and attacking their family is “positive”, what do Mr. Spencer’s negative campaigns look like?

In response to GOP senate candidate John Spencer’s claim last night that he never runs negative campaigns, the reelection campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today released the following statement:

“If comparing Senator Clinton to Osama bin Laden is what John Spencer’s ‘positive’ campaign looks like, what do his negative campaigns consist of?” Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson said. “Given John Spencer’s history he probably doesn’t consider a campaign negative until he threatens to murder his opponent. It’s unfortunately very clear that John Spencer is determined to run a negative, personal campaign against Senator Clinton.”

On NY1 last night, Spencer told interviewer Dominic Carter: “I’ve never ran a negative campaign, I run positive campaigns” (sic).

Here is what Spencer’s senate campaign has looked like thus far:

John Spencer’s version of a positive campaign

Spencer TV ad put a photo of Senator Clinton next to Osama bin Laden, prompting Republicans to call it “way out of line”; a “stupid mistake”; and “wrong.” Spencer’s TV ad juxtaposed a photo of Osama Bin Laden with one of Senator Clinton while distorting the senator’s record on the Patriot Act and NSA wiretap program. Even Republican pundits agreed the ad was “way out of line”: Ron Christie, a former assistant to Dick Cheney, said the ad was “a publicity stunt…aligning [Senator Clinton] with Osama Bin Laden, I think is way out of line,” calling Spencer “a local politician who I think made a stupid mistake.” Former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) called the ad “sleazy,” and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said the use of Osama bin Laden’s photo used terrorism for “cheap political gain” and that, “at minimum” Spencer should be “forced to withdraw from the race.” Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a Spencer supporter, said “I’ve known Senator Clinton for a number of years and we may have differences on this or that issue but I would never question her patriotism, question her integrity or her absolute commitment to winning the war on terrorism. Whatever differences we have are honest and to me you should never question, certainly not Senator Clinton’s integrity.” Former GOP VP candidate Jack Kemp agreed that, “I don’t like that kind of campaigning, I’ve never done it myself. I’ve always campaigned on ideas.” Spencer defended the ad by saying, “No, I don’t think it’s dirty… I think what’s dirty is terrorism.” [MSNBC 8/15/06, 8/16/06; AP 8/15/06; Times Union Capitol Confidential, http://blogs.timesunion.com/capitol/?p=1894, 8/17/06; Hannity and Colmes, Jack Kemp, 8/16/06; Clinton Plays Politics, Spencer for Senate, http://www.joinspencer.com/blog/_archives/2006/8/14/2230129.html; Urban Elephants blog, http://www.urbanelephants.com/nyc/node/4901, 8/15/06; Associated Press 8/16/06; Journal News 8/16/06; RCV #29, 3/2/06; RCV #11, 2/2/06; RCV #313, 10/25/01]

Spencer attacked the Senator’s husband, saying he dodged the draft. Spencer said, “When war broke out in Vietnam, many people my age dodged the draft–including Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill. Instead of hiding in Canada or at a foreign university, I served my country in Vietnam as a combat infantry lieutenant in the United States Army.” (Direct Mail, Spencer for Senate, 3/06)

A ‘furious’ Spencer sent a direct mail piece that called Senator Clinton a “back-stabber” and “frightening,” prompting a Brooklyn Congressman to declare Spencer “one fry short of a happy meal”. The Daily News reported that a “furious fund-raising letter for Republican John Spencer rips into Sen. Hillary Clinton for her ‘backstabbing,’ ‘lack of morals’ and ‘unbridled ambition.’ Spencer’s letter even compared his challenge to the Democrat Clinton as a battle between good and evil.” The letter was mistakenly sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who told the Daily News that Spencer was obviously “one fry short of a Happy Meal.” (Daily News 4/5/06)

Spencer called Senator Clinton full of “hatred.” In March 2006, Spencer said, “We’re at war. There’s nothing wrong with debating policy, but not with that vitriol and hatred in your voice, and you’ve seen that hatred out of Hillary Clinton.” (New York Observer 3/22/06)

Spencer said Senator Clinton projects “phoniness.” In several interviews, Spencer has suggested that Senator Clinton and are phony politicians. “It’s Hillary Clinton being Hillary Clinton. Just like Bill did his first term. People see through phoniness.” (Fred Dicker Radio Show 12/14/05)

Spencer said Senator Clinton is “a big part” of the far-left’s “attack on God.” Spencer accused Senator Clinton of being anti-God: “Hillary’s a big part of this, that have this attack on religion and God.” (WMCA radio 6/20/06)

Spencer called Senator Clinton a ‘leftwing anti-defense liberal.” In his own press release, Spencer called Senator Clinton “a leftwing anti-defense liberal.” (Press release, Spencer for Senate, 7/26/05)

Spencer said Senator Clinton is for a ‘failed socialist vision,’ not ‘freedom,’ especially at the United Nations. In a direct mail piece, Spencer accused Senator Clinton of advocating socialism. He said, “Instead of protecting our freedom, Hillary Clinton is sacrificing it bit by bit to her failed socialist vision where the federal government impacts nearly every aspect of our lives. For too long, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and their liberal Democrat allies have allowed hate-American, socialist bureaucrats at the United Nations to influence U.S. foreign policy.” (Direct Mail, Spencer for Senate, 3/06)

Spencer said Senator Clinton is “ripping our nation apart”. Spencer said Senator Clinton’s criticism of the way the war in Iraq has been conducted is “ripping our country apart.” He said, “Mrs. Clinton and her friends are ripping apart our nation, for political purposes only. They’re ripping apart our nation.” (Glens Falls Candidate Forum 3/13/06)

Spencer sent an attack-ridden direct mail piece that said Senator Clinton is ‘not serious’ about fighting terrorism will “force you into socialized medicine” and will “forcibly” make taxpayers “support illegal immigrants:” Spencer’s November direct mail piece attacked Senator Clinton for being weak in the war on terror and being a tax-and-spend liberal. Specifically, Spencer made the following attacks:

· SENATOR CLINTON is not serious about the war on terror. She wants to slash military spending…

· SENATOR CLINTON will force you into government-controlled socialized medicine!

· SENATOR CLINTON will forcibly take your tax dollars to support illegal immigrants — their housing, schools, and health care…

· SENATOR CLINTON wants a Supreme Court dominated by leftists.

· SENATOR CLINTON wants your tax money paying for abortions and special rights for homosexuals. (Politicker 12/2/05)

Spencer said Senator Clinton follows a “personal agenda,” not a “New York agenda.” Spencer attacked Senator Clinton as selfish and not concerned about New Yorkers, saying, “My assessment of Senator Clinton is that she has been ineffective for the people of the state of New York and has been very effective for herself. She’s a public official that is promoting a Clinton agenda and I want to promote the New York state agenda….” (Scott Leffler Show, John Spencer, 1/12/06) What Rose Garden?