Dear Dr. Bob, I’m running for mayor in a college town just outside of a major city. The position is nonpartisan, but it is well known that I am a Democrat and my opponent is a Republican. The election is coming up very quickly and my opponent has managed to push a negative story about me to the press. The story, alleging a sex crime when I was 14 and babysitting, is both untrue and more than 30 years old. Somehow my opponent is getting traction with this nonsense and I suspect a local PR person with strong ties to conservative Republicans is behind this dirty trick. What do I do? Getting Smeared
This is always a tough one because of how quickly bad news and dirty tricks move. So let’s get through a few things quickly. Yes, more likely than not the dirty trick is being orchestrated by the local PR type you mentioned. And it may be getting traction as one GOP type hands it off to another just to keep the story going. This tactic is designed to hit you where the sun don’t shine and at the last minute to reduce your ability to respond before voting gets going.
So, while we’re going through this remember what Dr. Bob always prescribes: “Never defend, always attack.”
In other words, you can’t afford to spend your time responding to the dirty trick by saying “No I didn’t.” You need to launch a hard attack on the other side by first dismissing the allegation and then going on offense:
“Of course the story is not true, but the important question is why is my opponent and his public relations hatchet man being allowed to get away with this? They’re losing so now they’re making things up in a desperate attempt to take over control of city hall. But why? What is so valuable to them that they would risk being exposed as liars and cheats? Those are the questions that must be asked now, because if we wait too long it will be too late.”
Or words to that effect.
Next, don’t waste money using your mail, phones, etc. to rebut (“No I didn’t) the allegations. Use it to press your case and why you are the better choice. Having said all of that, it would be nice if some independent group was involved and clobbered the SOB opponent, now wouldn’t it.
Good luck and take those gloves off. This is an old style , bare knuckle fight you’ve got.