2006 Senate Race: N.J. Senate Race: Anatomy Of A Smear Campaign

N.J. Senate Race: Anatomy Of A Smear Campaign
Marcia Kramer

(CBS) NEW YORK Everyone knows politics is a dirty affair. But it's rare for the public to see exactly how one candidate tries to gain advantage over another. CBS 2 takes you behind the scenes to see "The Anatomy Of A Smear." This one is about the war in Iraq and the New Jersey Senate campaign.

It began with a campaign dirty trick.

Step 1: The Setup
Republican state senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. was forced to run a gauntlet of Bob Menendez supporters when he arrived at CBS 2 Saturday to tape a campaign debate.

Step 2: The Attack
Menendez attacked Kean's position on Iraq during the debate.

"You won't even answer. You won't even answer the military families in New Jersey who have asked you a critical question, 'What would you do if this continues to be a civil war?'" Menendez told Kean during the debate.

Step 3: The Set Up
Staffers sneaked Joann Suhl, the mother of a soldier serving in Iraq, into a post-debate press conference to confront Kean.

"Three of the families met with you, as you recall," Suhl told Kean.

Step 4: The Tracker
Menendez staffer Patrick McKenna videotaped the confrontation as a Kean staffer moves between Suhl and Kean.

Suhl said, "My named is Joann Suhl, and my son is in Iraq, and Thomas Kean Jr…"

"Has already met with you," McKenna interrupted.

"…and refused to answer our questions," Suhl continued.

"He did not," the staffer responded.

Step 5: The Sting
A press release, headlined "Caught On Tape: Kean Jr. Running From Military Mother, Ducking Questions About War In Iraq."

Step 6: Double Gotcha
The video shot by the Menendez staffer is put on YouTube and released to the public.

Step 7: The Payoff
The group Military Families of New Jersey holds a press conference the following day to bash Kean and praise Menendez.

"The most ethical statement I've heard in this campaign has come from Robert Menendez, and that is he would not be willing to send other peoples' kids to a war he would not send his own," said John Fenton of Gold Star Families.

A spokeswoman for Kean attacked team Menendez, calling the senator "a political thug who employs Hudson County boss-style tactics in an election."

A spokesman for Menendez defended the move, saying New Jersey voters have a right to know where Kean stands on the war in Iraq


"Anatomy of a Smear"

The Smear appears on YouTube

Comments (3)

Said this on 10-10-2006 At 10:58 am
Menendez is a lowlife. CBS did a great job in exposing this creep.
Said this on 10-13-2006 At 10:33 am
seems to be a very pro republican site. thats ok
if youre rooting for a hapless and scandal ridden
administration. Kean is a lightweight and without
family connections and bush money he would be a mediocre insurance salesman.
Ed Mecka
Said this on 10-14-2006 At 11:46 am
To Previous commentator:

The Story is a CBS NEWS Channel 2 NYC report! Are you saying that CBS is bias in their reporting on the SMEAR TACTIC?

While I am surprised that the news media actually conducted the research and reported their findings, they deserve a pat on the back for airing the report.

The investigative reporter also deserves recognition.

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