Arkansas Senate Candidates Hold Back Attacks (AP Analysis)

by Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013 12:13 pm  

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. (left), and Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

LITTLE ROCK - The bare-knuckle brawl that had been the Arkansas U.S. Senate race has entered its softer season, with both candidates toning down the rhetoric amid the holidays.

In the past two weeks, we've learned that Tom Cotton's mama loves her boy and that Mark Pryor loves Jesus. Cotton loves Jesus, too, but his current ad campaign doesn't come out and say so directly.

Cotton, a Republican congressman from Dardanelle, decided last summer to pursue the Senate seat held the last 11 years by Pryor, a Democrat from Little Rock whose father was a U.S. senator and a governor.

From the get-go, many television commercials (some paid for by the candidates' supporters) attempted to portray the other side in a harsh light. But beginning around Thanksgiving, advertising has almost exclusively focused on what makes these guys tick.

Pryor is inspired by his faith, according to his latest ad. Neither political party is right all the time, and the sooner people find common ground, the better off we'd all be, according to the senator.

Cotton's latest ad touts his willingness to serve others, with his mother noting his insistence to serve overseas in the infantry.

These are more-pleasant sentiments to hear in the run-up to Christmas; one can imagine how jarring it would be to interrupt the 413th showing of "White Christmas" with an advertisement telling viewers how bad your senator or congressman is.

We should imagine instead how the campaigns could tie themes from our favorite holiday movies into their advertising:

-Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" could still want the BB gun with the compass in the stock and the thing that tells time, but only after assurances from the National Rifle Association that it would endorse the candidate that supports gun rights.

-The Bailey Building & Loan from "It's a Wonderful Life" would have never been at risk if not for federal banking regulations that hinder economic development; however, someone should still investigate whether Mr. Potter's businesses constitute a monopoly, and whether he's nothing more than a thief.

-Would Buddy and other North Pole workers in "Elf" qualify as Santa's dependents under the Affordable Care Act, and would Hermie from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" be upset with Medicaid reimbursement rates for his dental practice?

-Eddie Griswold in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" could feed his family if not for the fight over food stamps under the federal Farm Bill.

Look for not-so-soft advertising to resume after the holidays and continue until next November's election - with perhaps a break around Easter.

Maybe then there will be a flurry of ads in which we learn that the candidates like kittens and puppies.

Then the fur will fly again.

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