You know, in an odd way, and almost precisely in reverse in one key aspect, the Illinois Senate race is a microcosm of the presidential campaign. The reverse aspect is that it's pretty certain who's going to win. Absent a major brain seizure or a sudden case of death, Obama is going to win in the closest thing to a walkover this state has ever seen. However, exactly like the presidential race, everyone including the candidates is focused on anything but the actual issues. For example, the issues of import to Illinois that have been covered by the candidates recently are ... um ... wait, there's something, I know there is ... well, you take my point.
And it turns out that this is Keyes' strategy?
Declaring that his campaign strategy is dependent on controversy, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes told the state's top GOP donors at a recent closed-door meeting that he plans to make "inflammatory" comments "every day, every week" until the election, according to several sources at the session.
The sources said Keyes explained that his campaign has been unfolding according to plan and likened it to a war in which lighting the "match" of controversy was needed to ignite grass-roots voters. "This is a war we're in," one source recounted Keyes as saying. "The way you win wars is that you start fires that will consume the enemy."
Keyes' comments came during a 40-minute address to about 20 leading Republican fundraisers and donors Thursday at the posh Chicago Club. The sources asked not to be identified to prevent additional pre-election controversy within an already divided GOP. At the session, the sources said, Keyes denied that he has engaged in name-calling in his campaign. But he likened Democratic opponent Barack Obama to a "terrorist" because Obama, a state senator, voted against a legislative proposal pushed by abortion foes, sources said.
Mounting a non-traditional campaign based heavily on theologically based moral teachings, Keyes predicted he could lock up one-quarter of the black vote by stressing his belief that Jesus would not vote for Obama based on the Democrat's support for abortion rights, the sources said. [...] The remarks attributed to Keyes indicate there may be no end to a series of controversial statements he has made since members of the Republican State Central Committee tapped him in early August to replace Jack Ryan as the GOP Senate candidate on the Nov. 2 ballot.
With Keyes trailing far behind Obama in cash and in public opinion polls, the Republican contender's strategy indicates he will continue to seek free media attention fed off controversy. The game plan belies the belief of some conservatives who have contended Keyes, a former talk show host from Maryland, has been maneuvered by the media into making controversial remarks...
So he thinks he can get a quarter of the black vote by saying that he knows what Jesus would do. Maybe it's just that all the black evangelicals I'm related to and the others that I know are terribly terribly liberal ... well, no, they're not, actually. But most of them find it somewhat offensive that he thinks he can speak for Jesus in this manner (even if they kind of agree with him on the abortion issue, up to that point). And given this particular statement to the GOP board, they're likely to find the sentiment even more offensive and cynical.
Even if it were true -- and I don't believe it is -- then what? He's so profoundly alienated most of the GOP that the 25% he's talking about would likely be all the votes he gets. The GOP brought him in to help others on the ticket -- it wouldn't help other races to have both a decided presidential race in this state and a senate walkover/no-candidate -- but at this point, he's likely doing real damage to GOP chances in any other close statewide race. Given both a decided presidential race in this state, and a decided senate race with a revolting candidate, a lot of GOP voters may just decide to stay home.
And the sad thing is, if the GOP had just decided to stick with Ryan, his divorce thing would have blown over. Oh, he had no chance to win after all that, of course, but he'd certainly have done much better. If nothing else, the bedrock arch-conservatives to whom they thought Alan Keyes would appeal might have actually voted for Ryan, simply because they loathed the idea of Obama representing the state. Now, those people aren't likely to vote for anyone.Posted by iain at September 14, 2004 11:33 PM