INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off his 2016 campaign Thursday night with an attitude. He promised to attack the records of his opponents.
Pence said that anyone expecting a campaign like 2012 will be disappointed in 2016. The translation is: no more Mr. Nice Guy.
The Mike Pence ads in 2012 featured a red pickup truck and no mention of his opponents. They were the definition of positive.
But the governor told Republicans Thursday night the gloves are off for 2016.
“This is going to be a fight,” he said. “And I’m ready.”
It brings to mind his unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1990 when he targeted Democrat Phil Sharp in an ad that featured an Arab impostor who prompted charges that it was disgusting and distasteful. At the time, Pence admitted using negative tactics.
“I don’t take issue with the fact that elements of this television commercial and elements of the radio ad,” he said during the 1990 campaign, “have a negative twist to them.”
But after losing that race Pence wrote an essay titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” in which he said “negative campaigning is wrong.”
Thursday night he sounded like a guy prepared to go negative again.
“And I’ve long believed that negative personal attacks have no place in public life and I hope our opponents feel the same way,” he said, “but elections are about choices.”
And he said that by Election Day the choice will be clear.
Make no mistake this will be a rough campaign and Pence will likely have little choice but to go negative.
That’s why it serves him now to get the debate over negative campaigning out of the way.