Reposted, from 5:25 p.m. Friday — The first real exchange of the GOP race for governor took place just minutes ago, with a brutal attack by Secretary of State Karen Handel on state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.
It took the form of a video. The opening image was a grunting bovine. The opening line:
“It weighs tons. Is loud. Moves not with grace, but with a lumbering gait. It is the ox.
Who could be stronger than an ox?”
See it here:
The barrage was strong enough to elicit a gasp from the crowd. The video was the product of Fred Davis, creator of the “godless” ad used in Elizabeth Dole’s unsucessful bid to retain her U.S. Senate seat last year.
Davis also did the “rat video” that Sonny Perdue successfully used against Roy Barnes in 2002.
The video included a flash from that piece of work, a signal that the Handel campaign intends to make Barnes a whipping boy should he enter the race, referring to him as “the same furry creature who tried and failed before.”
The video also includes a subtle criticism of Handel’s mentor, Gov. Sonny Perdue. “Does Georgia have challenges that no politician has been able to solve?” the video asks. “You bet. Transportation. Water. Education. Bloated budgets.”
The six GOP candidates for governor spoke in alphabetical order. U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal promised “intellectual honesty.” Eric Johnson, a hometown boy, pointed to his legislation that arranges for the public disclosure of the names of state lawmakers who don’t pay their taxes. Ray McBerry accused certain candidates (i.e., Oxendine) of coming late to the states’ rights party, and promised that — when the next Hurricane Katrina came — he would throw in the klink any representative of the federal government who tried to confiscate the firearms of the citizenry.
In his address to the convention, Oxendine gave little response to the Handel video roundhouse. But afterwards Oxendine spokesman Jeff Breedlove said, “We just saw the admission of who the real front-runner is.”
Breedlove called Handel “unhinged” and engaged in “a meltdown.”
Beside him stood Oxendine, who said there’s nothing wrong with an ox. “The ox pulled conservative values from the East Coast to the West Coast,” he said. “An ox doesn’t labor for glory or self-gratification. An ox just works.”
But while Oxendine spoke off the floor, the final candidate for governor, Austin Scott, weighed in on $120,000 in campaign contributions that Oxendine has chosen to return: “We cannot survive taking unethical illegal campaign contributions,” he told convention delegates — a clear reference to Oxendine. “This is your responsibility.”
Scott said Republicans need “candidates whose actions do not bring into question the integrity of the brand.”