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Boasso distort, attack mode may finish his chances

You can tell which Louisiana gubernatorial candidates are getting desperate when they resort to outright deception about an opponent's actions and statement, as occurred during the second “debate” at my home institution.

Democrat State Sen. Walter Boasso lost his cool when, in the space of 30 seconds, first he lied about opponent Republican Bobby Jindal’s voting record, and then about the content of Jindal’s campaign commercials. Boasso first started going off the rails when he said Jindal had voted against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and belittled him for that. In fact, Jindal was absent for the final vote and has said he would have voted for it.

When Jindal interrupted with the moderator’s permission, no doubt to correct Boasso, Boasso then whined over him about resenting how Jindal had called him corrupt, probably referring to a campaign commercial where Jindal asks voters to put someone in office who is not part of the old “corrupt” crowd and not one of the “clowns” currently running the state. But Jindal never has said any of his opponents are corrupt, from his own mouth or in his commercials – so it’s interesting that Boasso would think it was him to which the commercials referred, but definitely inaccurate to impute Jindal called Boasso “corrupt.”

Boasso said he referred to an earlier version of the legislation that Jindal had voted against. But especially given the fact the previous day Jindal had quite publicly stated he was for the SCHIP bill and would vote to overturn its veto, it was clear he was trying to distort and confuse the issue, just as he distorted the Jindal ad’s meaning.

By contrast, Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell laughed off the “clown” remark in the ad, and independent businessman John Georges used the exchange to argue “partisan” bickering of this nature was at the heart of troubles in Louisiana governance. They clearly scored points at Boasso’s expense.

Again, this paints Boasso as a candidate willing to say or do “whatever it takes,” apparently no matter how far removed it is from reality, to win, a promise he has previously made and confirmed by his partisan switch for political gain. As negative as some voters will see this, however, another perception problem looms for him.

This incident was consistent with a combative, pugnacious approach concerning Jindal that Boasso has taken in both debates. Jindal is taking it for now and, with the exception of calling Boasso on the vote fib, has refrained from counter jabs, knowing he well can afford to desist with a good chance of winning outright in the primary, then unloading on whoever makes the general election runoff against him if it comes to that. This allows Georges and Campbell to engage in light criticism of Jindal and get a free ride off Boasso’s back as his combativeness may pull some voters away from Jindal but equally alienates them from him.

Boasso may think he must attack, even to the point of falsehood, in order to pull Jindal into a runoff where he assumes he’ll be the opposition. He better think again, because his tactics are such that even if Jindal has to face a runoff, they may allow Campbell, Georges, or both to pass him to deny him the other runoff position.

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