AP Photo/Evan Vucci

How not to win the White House


Let me finish tonight with this insidious plan to scare up right-wing voters and scare off the votes of those who tend to vote Democratic.

This is just the kind of campaign mentality that leads to trouble on the part of those who pursue it. Everyone knows the Republicans are headed for a good election night this November. They are poised to win the Senate and to pick up five to 10 seats in the House of Representatives. You know it. They know it. Believe me–smart Democrats know it.

So why this plan to roll up the score, to bring out the crazies on the right, and to drown out the progressives (including many minorities) who will be intimidated by the new Republican-pushed voters laws?

I’ve watched how exactly this kind of stuff blows up in your face. It did with Richard Nixon several times in 1950 when he called his senatorial opponent “pink right down to her underwear,” and in 1972 when he took a sure-win for re-election and turned it into Watergate.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 5/8/14, 8:06 PM ET

Matthews: You can’t scare your way to the top

Chris Matthews shares his thoughts about the plan to scare voters from showing up at the polls this November, and says that intimidating others to get to the top won’t work.
The trouble with nasty politics, like the kind we’re getting from the House leadership, is that it makes you look nasty, makes it look like you’re money-grubbing on the deaths of those four American diplomats, like you’re ready to kill a little more faith in government to get a few more votes. It’s a rotten deal and the people who play it will pay for it–maybe not this year, but in the years to come.

You can’t build a brand by painting a bathtub ring around your rivals. Why? Because people–voters!–are watching when you do it.

So is the media.

Richard Nixon never got past his early campaigning techniques and neither will the likes out there today trying to build a mandate entirely on the negative. Nobody wants someone in the White House who got there through scare tactics and keeping people from voting.

How not to win the White House