It’s fortunate for Hillary Clinton that Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont who is challenging her for the Democratic presidential nomination, despises and eschews negative advertising. That’s because the political consulting firm that Sanders has retained to advise his campaign has a well-developed expertise in devising attack ads. Earlier this year, this outfit, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, won a Pollie award from the American Association of Political Consultants for creating the best Democratic congressional ad of 2014. The spot slammed Dave Trott, a Republican running for a congressional seat in Michigan, for making millions of dollars by foreclosing on residents of his state, and it focused on the harrowing eviction of a 101-year-old Detroit woman. Trott survived this assault and handily won the seat in the Republican district, but the Washington Post called the commercial “one of the most brutal attack ads you’ll ever see.”
The Sanders campaign has no plans to hurl these kinds of ads at Clinton. As Tad Devine, the veteran political operative who leads this firm and a longtime adviser to Sanders, notes, mudslinging is not part of the campaign strategy that Sanders and his advisers have crafted. There won’t even be one speck of dust directly tossed at Clinton. But, Devine tells me, implicit negative messages aimed at Clinton will certainly be “embedded” in Sanders’ advertising and social media messaging.