The guy behind the "Hitler Ad"
WCCO political reporter Pat Kessler nicely dissected Senate hopeful Mark Kennedy's inaugural campaign ad, which makes the somewhat laughable claim that Kennedy--among the most reliable pro-Administration votes in Congress--is "not much of a party guy." But Kessler's best catch in the piece is shining the spotlight on Kennedy's media consultant, Scott Howell.
Despite the soft-focus approach of the Kennedy ad, Howell is best known in political circles for a willingness to "go negative" with a nearly unmatched gusto. He had a hand in the Swift Boat campaign and was linked to a television spot in the 2002 Georgia senate race which portrayed Max Cleland as soft on defense. The ad achieved this by the most unseemly means--alternating a picture of Cleland, who lost both his legs in the Vietnam War, with images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
Howell has disavowed a role in that particular commercial. But he was the acknowledged force behind the notorious "Hitler ad" from last year's Virginia gubernatorial race. In the spot, the narrator stated that "[Democratic candidate] Tim Kaine says Adolph Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty."
Voter disgust over the Hitler ad was cited as a factor in Kaine's victory. Despite that episode of apparent over-reaching, Howell is still feared by Democrats who cite his enviable track record of electoral successes, which includes the 2002 campaign of Norm Coleman.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.