Method to the madness of Carly Fiorina's 'demon sheep' campaign ad?

It's not usually a good sign when your opponent cheers your campaign ad. But hey, the TV spot is getting a lot of free media attention for US Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

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    A still from Carly Fiorina's "Demon Sheep Ad" now making the rounds on Youtube.
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Is Carly Fiorina’s “demon sheep” political attack ad really that bad?

In case you haven’t heard, Ms. Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and ex-John McCain economic adviser, is running for the US Senate in California. Earlier this week her campaign released an ad that depicts former US Rep. Tom Campbell, an opponent in the GOP primary, as a glowing-eyed, demonic wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Initial reviews were scathing, including, we admit, ours. And let’s be honest: The ad really is a cargo ship full of crazy. Words like “purity” and “piety” flash scarily on screen, while a demon sheep falls from a Greek pedestal. Representative Campbell’s tax record is mentioned, and then the demon sheep reappears, this time as an actor wearing what appears to be Sonny Bono’s old sheepskin vest.

The point of the thing is to label Campbell as a FCINO – Fiscal Conservative in Name Only. But even to say that the ad has “a point” is to imply that it has narrative coherence. Which it doesn’t.

Yipee, says the Campbell camp

Campbell’s campaign is gleeful.

“Carly Fiorina’s campaign is in full Mutton Meltdown [sic], with an increasingly bizarre fixation on farm animals,” said Campbell spokesman James Fisfis in a statement.

In politics, it's not a good sign when your opponent is directing attention to your ads – particularly if they attack him by name. But is the Fiorina camp being crazy like a, uh, fox?

Maybe the ad is working. Fiorina has received loads of free media coverage that at least mentions her claim that Campbell is a false fiscal conservative. In a GOP primary, that’s a tough charge. And polls show that Fiorina may be behind Campbell at this point, meaning that she needs to do something to shake up the race.

For now, the Fiorina campaign is unrepentant.

“Look, what I like about the ad is first, it’s funny, but it’s also factually correct,” said Fiorina Thursday in response to the controversy.

Stand by for more

“Factually correct” and “demon sheep” may be two phrases you never thought you’d see connected. But Fiorina aides promised more such outrageous ads in comings weeks.

Republican media consultant Fred Davis is the man who produced the ad. He also made the 2008 John McCain “Celeb” ad, which compared Barack Obama with Paris Hilton in an attempt to turn Mr. Obama's celebrity status against him.

That one was also widely covered, and many pros felt it was effective.

Would it be churlish to point out that McCain lost that election?


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