About a decade ago, after Mitt Romney secured the Republicans’ presidential nomination, a top member of his campaign team said it was time to shake the Etch A Sketch and “restart all over again.”
The message, which was not well received, described a clumsy strategy in which candidates overhaul their messages after the primary season as they prepare to appeal to a broader electorate.
In Arizona, Senate hopeful Blake Masters is currently trying to shake the Etch A Sketch. The problem is, the far-right Republican and first-time candidate doesn’t appear to be good at it.
The first sign of trouble came earlier this month when Masters tried to back away from his own comments about privatizing Social Security. It was, of course, far too late: It was as recently as June when the Arizonan publicly argued, “We need fresh and innovative thinking, maybe we should privatize Social Security. Get the government out of it.” For the Senate candidate to try to argue two months later that he no longer agreed with himself was absurd.
This week, however, Masters made matters considerably worse. NBC News reported:
Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters softened his tone and scrubbed his website’s policy page of tough abortion restrictions Thursday as his party reels from the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.... Masters’ campaign published an overhaul of his website and softened his rhetoric, rewriting or erasing five of his six positions. NBC News took screenshots of the website before and after it was changed.
Just 24 hours ago, the Republican’s website told the public he’s “100% pro-life.” That’s now gone. Similarly, Masters’ campaign site boasted about his support for a so-called “personhood” measure — “ideally,” the candidate said, this would come in the form of “a Constitutional amendment” — that would extend the same legal rights to fetuses that are provided for people.
Now, that language has been deleted, too.
There’s no great mystery here. Arizona has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, but it now has two Democratic U.S. senators and the state narrowly helped elect President Joe Biden two years ago. Masters is one of this year’s most radical Senate candidates, and if the GOP candidate in the coming months sticks to the same messages he pushed during his primary race, he will almost certainly lose.
It’s why Democrats have been running a series of ads of late that simply quote Masters sharing his own ideas. Early last week, for example, the Democratic Senatorial Committee launched this spot quoting the Arizonan not only endorsing overturning Roe v. Wade, but also endorsing a national abortion ban, describing the medical procedure as “demonic.”
This is the same Republican who, during his Senate campaign, likened abortion to genocide and said he’d oppose any judicial nominee who agrees with the Griswold v. Connecticut precedent that prevented states from blocking access to contraception.
And yet, despite all of this, Masters not only quietly edited his website, removing content that reflected his opposition to reproductive rights, he also unveiled a new campaign ad in which he presented himself as a moderate on abortion, while accusing Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of “lying“ about the Republican’s far-right views on the issue.
Taken together, it seems Masters is running less of a campaign and more of a con.
That said, the GOP candidate might want to familiarize himself with a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect. The Merriam-Webster definition is as good as any: “The Streisand effect is a phenomenon whereby the attempt to suppress something only brings more attention or notoriety to it.”
In other words, the more someone tries to divert attention away from a story, the more it ends up having the opposite effect.
Why does it apply here? Because the more Masters tries to deceive the public about his radical views on reproductive rights, the more the public is hearing about his radical views on reproductive rights.