OPPOSITION RESEARCH AT WORK
A big winner
Swiftboat veterans. Chris LaCivita, an adviser to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's Republican campaign for governor, is credited with - or blamed for - the 2004 presidential campaign ads that had fellow servicemen question the Vietnam War service of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Kerry ran, in part, as a war hero. However, the Swiftboat ads undercut his military credibility at a time when the United States was waging two wars. President George W. Bush, a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, won the national security argument and re-election.
A big dud?
Bush DUI. The Friday before the 2000 race, a story broke detailing George W. Bush's 24-year-old drunken driving arrest, raising questions about his judgment and maturity. Those questions helped Vice President Al Gore mount a small comeback. But Bush won a tight election, taking the electoral vote. In the end, the "October surprise" didn't win for Gore.
Supporting the military? In the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler released an ad in which an actor resembling Mark Sanford stripped a soldier to his skivvies, accusing Sanford of not supporting the military while in Congress. The ad was based on an old opposition research trick - take procedural or protest votes and represent those as an opponent's beliefs. It didn't work. Sanford won the GOP nomination and two terms as governor.