An evangelical leader countered Newt Gingrich’s argument against negative super PAC ads, saying that candidates should be allowed to use attack ads, as long as the ads are factually correct.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., of the High Impact Leadership Coalition told The Christian Post that in a perfect world, candidates would not need to attack their opponents’ record in order to get ahead politically. But since the world is not perfect, Jackson said it is acceptable for candidates to use negative advertising as long as they state facts about an opponents’ record.
“They must be direct, factual ads that make people be accountable for their record,” he said.
The former House speaker is calling on fellow candidates to not run any negative ads for the remainder of the race. He has specifically targeted close contender Mitt Romney, whose super PAC Restore Our Future launched anti-Gingrich ads throughout the national ad market.
Romney told MSNBC he does not agree with the negative tone of the super PAC ads, but he has no control over the group because of campaign finance laws. The laws prohibit candidates from coordinating with their super PAC supporters.
Yet Gingrich told Virginians this week that the former Massachusetts governor is “morally responsible” for the anti-Gingrich ads that his super PAC runs.
Bishop Jackson agrees that Romney could insert some measure of influence over his super PAC.
“I do believe that if Romney said something publicly long enough and hard enough, the message would get through that he doesn’t like the content of these ads,” he said.
However, Jackson said there is nothing morally wrong with campaign ads that are factual.
So far, Politifact has found Romney super PAC ads criticizing Gingrich for teaming up with Democrat Nancy Pelosi and being fined $300,000 for ethnic violations are true.
A Romney ad did misquote President Barack Obama, however.
Gingrich asserted in his campaign website that negative ads “attacking fellow Republicans only help one person: Barack Obama.”
Studies do not support Gingrich’s claim.
A 2002 University of Georgia research study concluded that negative ads are more effective than positive ads at the first viewing. Additionally, negative ads have a deeper impact on voters the more times they view them.
Candidates and their supporters are short on time, after Christmas candidates will have eight days to sway on-the-fence voters, resorting to attack ads to change minds before the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3.
In Iowa, contenders Romney and Ron Paul are flooding the market with anti-Gingrich ads. The polls show the ads are working. New Iowa polls from American Research Group show that Paul is leading the candidates in Iowan caucus support with 21 percent. Romney has also edged out Gingrich with 20 percent.
Gingrich, who held the top spot in national polls, has fallen to 19 percent.