[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/14/art.faye.wattleton.jpg caption="Faye Wattleton, President, Center for the Advancement of Women"]
President, Center for the Advancement of Women
Running for president of the United States isn’t the same as running for Sunday School principal. As the stakes are the highest for the most powerful position on the planet, the contest will only grow hotter in intensity. This is, after all, the run for the presidency, the closest thing we have to royalty. The presidential candidates are crying foul with every attack ad that’s launched on them. Complaining about one another’s ads is a waste of valuable air time in an electorate with a short attention span and awaiting clarity on vital issues.
Frankly, the tone at this point has been relatively civilized. Willie Horton and Swift boat ads, which were patent distortions of the candidates’ actions, have not yet appeared on the campaigns. Many fear the current attacks will weaken the Democratic Party’s chances of winning the general election. They may be right, not because of the ads, but because of the vagueness of the candidate’s positions.
The exhilarating phase of the campaign is coming to an end, and the scrutiny is tightening on the candidate’s character and ability to lead a nation with many challenges. If the candidates and their surrogates are genuinely concerned about how attack ads might be distracting voters, they should stop complaining and use them as a backdrop to give Americans more substantial issues to think about. Rather than disparaging, dismissing or brushing off their attacker, the candidates should explain their positions on specific issues. Failure to do so is an injustice of the democratic process.
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