After letting Bob Clement define the debate all during the runoff—taxes and crime are all we've been talking about—Karl Dean is finally trying to switch the issues to ones more favorable to his candidacy. By calling for a debate on education yesterday, Dean moved to escape Clement's trap. At least it's a beginning. But his little announcement was eclipsed by Bob Clement's
snub of the police chief. That's the problem with relying on the free media to carry your message. Sometimes, they don't cooperate.
Some of Dean's advisers are becoming increasingly frustrated by his campaign's failure (a) to focus on what they see as Dean's main advantage in this race—he's new and Clement's old; he's a progressive leader for the future and Clement's a political hack from the past and (b) to unleash enough money from his wife's pocketbook to pay for TV ads to dominate the airwaves with this message.
The Dean campaign is outspending Clement, but not by that much. Dean's latest ad buy was enough to ensure the average viewer sees his spot 12 times in the week. That's four more times than Clement's ads will be seen. But Dean's buy still isn't that large by today's standards.
At last report, this race was a dead heat. The campaigns will probably take more polls next week after the Labor Day holiday. If the news is bad for Dean, it might shake up his campaign strategy. But it also might be too late by then. We imagine the Clement campaign is getting ready to drop a new bomb on Dean, probably an ad starring the murderer Paul Dennis Reid. That's sure to grab the headlines and make it even harder for Dean to change the subject.