The attacks on Beto O'Rourke as a (gasp!) former punk rocker have done absolutely nothing to hurt his Senate campaign against Ted Cruz, and, in fact, have probably helped O'Rourke with younger voters. The GOP is doing the same thing to Antonio Delgado, a congressional candidate in upstate New York.
Delgado, the son of General Electric workers in Schenectady, New York, attended Colgate and Harvard Law and was a Rhodes scholar. He's now a married lawyer with two kids.
But a decade ago he was an aspiring rapper called AD the Voice, and the GOP, trying to save the seat of the Republican incumbent he's challenging, John Faso, is cherry-picking Delgado's lyrics to make him seem dangerous and scary:
In [an] ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee, lyrics from Delgado’s rap career are juxtaposed against clips from his recent campaign ads. A line in which Delgado says that he is “fighting for what’s fair and just” is followed by an old AD the Voice lyric, “gotcha sweatin’ this like ya having sex to a porno flick.” Another line where the candidate says “we owe it to our country to restore the American Dream” is followed by a clip of AD the Voice saying “criticize — it’s what a patriot does” and “God Bless Iraq.”
The "God bless Iraq" edit is particularly obnoxious. Delgado's record came out in 2007. The song from which it's taken, "Draped in Flags," ends with the following recitation:
Terror does not just come in brown, nor is it new. Evil lives in us all, so we must fight with love and goodness in our hearts and peace in our minds, if democracy, equality, and freedom are truly to prevail. God bless America. God bless Iraq. God bless us all.
Remember, the Iraq War was sold to us as, among other things, a way to liberate Iraqis from Saddam's rule. The last line of President George W. Bush's speech to the nation after Saddam was captured was "May God bless the people of Iraq, and may God bless America."
This isn't the only GOP ad to attack Delgado for his lyrics. There's also this one:
That comes from the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is Paul Ryan's super PAC. While we're talking about lyrics, I'll remind you that a 2012 New York Times profile of Ryan depicted him "stroll[ing] the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds." Rage's most famous song is, of course, "Killing in the Name," otherwise known as...
(After Rage guitarist Tom Morello declared that Ryan was "the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades," the congressman said, "They were never my favorite band. I hate the lyrics, but I like the sound. Led Zeppelin has always been my favorite band." Paul, we know you were trying to be more culturally conservative with this pick, but can we talk about Led Zeppelin and that shark?)
In any case, the attack on Delgado doesn't seem to be working: Faso and the Republicans started raising the subject of Delgado's rap career back in July, and the most recent poll, from Monmouth, shows Delgado in the lead:
Delgado is supported by 45% and Faso is supported by 43% of all potential voters.... Another 9% are undecided. When applying two different likely voter models, the contest continues to favor the Democrat. A historical midterm model gives Delgado a 48% to 45% lead over Faso, while a model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts gives Delgado a 49% to 43% lead.
So maybe it's not a good idea to make your Democratic opponent look cooler than you.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog