Interviews

New ObamaCare attack ads against vulnerable Dems

Will strategy work in upcoming elections?

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 3, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHARLES PAYNE, GUEST HOST: After the glitches, the ad blitzes. The midterm elections months away, and ObamaCare critics, they are taking on vulnerable Democrats in several new ads.

But the question is, are they effective?

Pollster Frank Luntz is here to break it all down for us.

Well, listen, ObamaCare is not necessarily popular these days. It would seem that anyone who backed it is in trouble.

FRANK LUNTZ, FOUNDER, LUNTZ GLOBAL: And it's particularly unpopular in states south of the Mason-Dixon Line, who didn't vote for him in the first place, and they're not happy with what they have got.

But the key to these ads, and you're going to decide whether you feel that they have achieved it or not, are they realistic? Do they paint an alternative picture to what we have right now, and are they credible? You need all three components to make a successful ad.

PAYNE: All right, I'll tell you what. Let's take look at one of them, Tillis vs. Hagan. This is a North Carolina race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

SENATORIAL CANDIDATE THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.: In the private sector, businesses are built on accountability. But accountability is a foreign language in Washington. ObamaCare is a disaster, but the president won't admit it.

The debt is out of control, and neither party has stopped it. Kay Hagan enabled President Obama's worst ideas. She refuses to clean up his mess. So you and I have to clean up hers.

I'm Thom Tillis. I approve this message. And that's why I'm running for the U.S. Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAYNE: All right, let me tell you what jumped out at me.

LUNTZ: OK.

PAYNE: He said "neither party." So, seems like he is also not just anti- ObamaCare, but jumping on the anti-politician bandwagon as well.

LUNTZ: And he had the most important attribute of any ad right now, accountability. It's the number one value that Americans want in Washington, and they think it's missing from Congress and the White House from Republicans and Democrats. Brilliant ad, very effective. It's one of the first ads of 2014. That's going to be very effective.

PAYNE: OK.

I want to take a look at another one. One of the big names in this whole Senate thing is going to be Landrieu down in Louisiana. We have got Americans for Prosperity. They have an anti-Landrieu ad. Let's take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AD)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance. Period. End of story.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D-LA.: Those individuals who like the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan.

This is a very accurate description of this bill.

NARRATOR: But now Louisianians are finding out that they lied.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Basically, you said what the president said. Any regrets?

LANDRIEU: No, Wolf, whatsoever.

NARRATOR: Tell Mary Landrieu, it's about people, not politics.

ObamaCare hurts Louisiana families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAYNE: That felt -- that felt effective to me.

LUNTZ: And Barack Obama is very unpopular in Louisiana.

What she should be doing is acknowledging that the plan has got its problems. She should not be standing behind the president because clearly you can't keep your health care necessarily. She made a big mistake there and she needs to walk it back, and for her campaign, her success depends on her walking it back now, in January, not in June.

PAYNE: I'll tell you what.

On that note, let's take a look at an ad that she has put out to see if she did effectively walk it back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MARY LANDRIEU CAMPAIGN AD)

LANDRIEU: I am Mary Landrieu, and I approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of thousands of people across the country losing their current coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration is under pressure to act fast.

LANDRIEU: What I have said to the president is, you told them that they could keep it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Landrieu has introduced the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise.

LANDRIEU: I'm fixing it, and that's what my bill does, and I have urged the president to fix it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Landrieu says President Obama needs to stick to his word.

LANDRIEU: This is a promise that you made. This is a promise you should keep.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAYNE: Ouch.

I mean, listen, certainly, to your point, she went after the villain in all of these, at least in Louisiana, but did she effectively distance herself?

LUNTZ: Well, two points. One is, I will be surprised if she was invited to the White House Christmas party this year.

(LAUGHTER)

LUNTZ: And second is that you have got to give details. And I will give viewers a key on advertising.

It's got to have three facts, three pieces of evidence that people will believe. She says she is fixing it. She didn't say, I'm doing A., B., and C. And without that substance, it's just politics.

PAYNE: And let's face it, too. I mean, she is not necessarily fixing it. She maybe presented a bill and -- but what else could she do? Maybe there aren't these three facts that she can even call up.

LUNTZ: She doesn't have a choice. There are things that you can change in that legislation, and she has not supported them.

She is trying to walk this fine line to keep Democrats on her side and still win over independents. If you walk the center of the road, it's like driving. You get run over. She has got to be more definitive, more explicit: I'm going to change these three components.

PAYNE: So, deflecting from her to President Obama is not enough?

(CROSSTALK)

LUNTZ: It's not enough. It's not enough, not in Louisiana, not in 2014, not with his favorability falling.

Now, she is a great campaigner. And do not assume -- I think she has got a fair shot at getting reelected, but not with an ad like that.

PAYNE: I want to talk to you about Ted Cruz, because I think he came out of 2013 with a fair amount of momentum behind him. A lot of things he warned about worked -- came to fruition with ObamaCare. The government shutdown did not hurt the economy.

I want to go to a piece that you're working on, because I think it's really interesting. And I want to share it with the audience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: There is a problem in Washington, and the problem is bigger than a continuing resolution. It's bigger than ObamaCare. It's even bigger than the budget.

The most fundamental problem, the frustration is that the men and women in Washington aren't listening. You talk to the man and woman on the street, that's the -- that's the message you hear over and over again. Why don't they listen to me? Why don't they hear what we have to say?

They aren't listening to the millions of people, Democrats, Republicans, independents, libertarians, across the spectrum, who say, our elected officials, they get to Washington, and they stop listening to the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAYNE: So, the graph we were looking at, it shows people agreeing with him or being positively impacted by the message as the graph is moving.

LUNTZ: Both of those. And I want to draw a distinction here. That was the best political sound bite of 2013.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose his tactics and his techniques, that language about Washington not listening did better than anything we tested from any senator, any congressmen, or the president. That is the number one rhetoric. And I'll tell you something. Congress and the White House need to pay attention to those words and listen.

PAYNE: OK. Well, the right-hand column is that the GOP was at 96. To me, the Dem hitting 76, that might be scary.

LUNTZ: With Ted Cruz.

PAYNE: With Ted Cruz.

LUNTZ: This is remarkable. And this is what 2014 is going to be about. Who is listening and learning from the American people?

And I'll tell you something. 2016 may be part of that as well.

PAYNE: All right.

LUNTZ: Ted Cruz had the best sound bite of the year.

PAYNE: Frank Luntz, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.

LUNTZ: Pleasure.

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