How to respond to negative campaigning

Marco Rubio’s failed bid to be the 2016 Republican nominee for President leaves behind many lessons in what not to do. But just as winning campaigns don’t get everything right, so too losing campaigns don’t get everything wrong – and the way the Rubio campaign responded to some of the bizarre attacks on him was rather effective.

Here’s the context for the TV ad below. In the run-up to the Iowa primary, Rubio had been on the receiving end of $22m of negative ads, alongside the ‘revelation’ in The Washington Post that he had been out too late one night in a park when he was 18.

Rubio’s response was to turn the attacks into ridicule – a much more effective response than getting into detailed discussions about the specifics of the case, and a much better way to energise supporters to help or donate. And also, a much better way of generating positive press coverage, which this ad did indeed secure:

For more on this subject, of course, there’s 101 Ways To Win An Election.

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