Truth Test: Humphreys- Coburn

Thursday, July 15th 2004, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

In many political campaigns, the closer the race, the uglier the ads. Kirk Humphreys is taking some pointed shots at Tom Coburn's record in Congress, despite a pledge to focus on "issues" rather than the other candidate.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan puts Humphreys' ad to the Truth Test. Compared to his opponents Tom Coburn walked into the race at the last minute - but now he's leading in the polls. Kirk Humphreys enjoyed an early advantage - with high profile endorsements from JC Watts and Jim Inhofe.

Early on the candidates pledged not to attack each other. And up until last week - all their advertising was positive. Then Kirk Humphreys started an ad. Announcer: “Do we know the real Tom Coburn? In Congress, Tom Coburn voted against vital defense funding.” The ad claims in Congress, Coburn voted against money for defense and national security - well before 9/11 and against funding benefits for our Oklahoma veterans.

But do those claims hold water? The list of individual votes is accurate - the simplification of Coburn's position is not. Announcer: “With America at war, we can't count on Tom Coburn.” Tom Coburn: "I can take anybody who has ever been in Congress and with half truths make anybody look bad."

Coburn explains the reason for those votes more fully on his website - in his advertising he's reminding voters that Humphreys promised not to go negative. Humphreys denies the ad is negative. Kirk Humphreys: "I think the voters want to know how people are going to vote on important issues like national defense and homeland security and when you're in a public race for United States Senate you ought to be able to defend your votes."

The change in advertising tone might be related to Coburn's lead in the polls. The conventional wisdom for political races is that attack ads almost always work - but especially for candidates losing ground.