Sen. Harry Reid seems to have found an old playbook belonging to former Sen. Chuck Robb, the Virginia Democrat who found himself in a similarly tough re-election spot 16 years ago, according to Steve Kornacki, news editor at Salon.com.
"Robb, like Reid, faced poisonously high negative ratings and was seeking reelection in an unusually hostile national climate for Democrats: the year of Newt Gingrich’s GOP revolution," Kornacki writes. "Then, as now, Democrats controlled the White House and sizable congressional majorities and popular frustration with the president was mounting. Robb, his image tarnished by a wire-tapping investigation and lurid stories of marital infidelity and wild partying in the 1980s, should have lost easily,"
That sounds like Reid’s situation — except for the wiretapping, marital infidelity and wild partying.
Robb was challenged by conservative folk hero Oliver North, of Iran-Contra fame.
How did he respond? "Robb pursued roughly the same strategy against North that Reid is now using against (Sharron) Angle, frantically painting his opponent as a "horrifyingly awful" opponent. North Iran-Contra past and his embrace of (and by) far-right elements gave Robb an opening to do this, just as Angle’s fringe politics have aided Reid," Kornacki writes.
Robb gave an election eve speech (with a clip here) that may have saved him, Kornacki writes. He won by three percentage points, 46-43.
"North was simply too offensive and too extreme to voters outside the hardcore GOP base," Kornacki writes. "Harry Reid’s only hope is that the same will be true with Angle this fall."