If it means negative sideswipes, like the questionable Cuban beans comment, he’ll do it.
If it means misrepresenting the Farm Bureau’s endorsement of Dave Heineman, he’ll do it.
If it means pulling in a major name, who has no connection to Nebraska (Hastert, McCain, Switzer!), he’ll do it.
We’ve pointed out here before the existence of the push poll: It sounds like a poll, but it’s really an advocacy call. Pete Ricketts was doing these, but was only using positive points about himself – he’s pro life, he’s a businessman, etc.
But Osborne’s push poll calls were directly negative of Heineman. And not only were they negative, they were misleading. “Did you know Heineman has done nothing about high gasoline prices?” “Did you know Heineman has nothing on his web site about illegal immigration?” Are you kidding me? Why not just accuse his wife of being a “practicing thespian” and his son of being a “homo sapien”?
And while these are bad enough, let’s look at how Osborne is weaseling out of responsibility:
First, he says he didn’t approve all the scripts and didn’t know they were going out. Well, so that means he did approve of the negative push poll calls themselves, and maybe he didn’t approve the specific scripts, though I doubt that.
Second, he says he apologizes to ““those who received the calls if they found them offensive or negative.” The classic non-apology apology! We’ve heard every athlete give this one! “I apologize if you were offended when I spouted the racial slur.” How about, I apologize for DOING IT. Not, “if you were offended”. So if I wasn’t offended, you don’t apologize?
He then says, that he thought other campaigns were doing it, and that he had gotten a push poll call from someone else. So that makes it OK? And you thought it happened? Did it or didn’t it? You’re a professional politician. Did it happen or didn’t it. And what does this have to do with your calls anyway? Why bring it up?
Next, when his campaign manager was asked, he DEFENDED the practice anyway! Saying, “The purpose of the survey was to confirm support for the congressman’s campaign and to help draw distinctions that could help voters decide.” Well duh. Thanks for the info there chief.
Finally, Osborne says he’s sorry, and the buck stops with him and he called Heineman to apologize and bladdah bladdah bladdah. When asked if he’s calling all those THOUSANDS of people back to take it all back: he’d take that under consideration. Yeah, uh huh. We’ll see if he makes good on that in the next five days. The damage has been done. It can’t be undone.
**Update 5/3/06, 2:36 pm**
Here is a well written editorial from Ed Howard at the Statepaper on this subject: (Osborne ‘Mea culpa: Sorry about the low blow, Dave!’ – Nebraska StatePaper – 5/3/06.