"Never give an opponent free publicity” is a political maxim of unknown authorship. The rule applies most to a candidate who is ahead in the polls; the front-running candidate can simply mention his or her own assets and ignore the opponent.
One “no free publicity” rule is that a candidate should not mention the opponent’s name, using instead “my (Democrat/Republican) opponent.” Another “no free publicity” rule is that the leading candidate should avoid debates (which give the opponent free exposure).
The “no free publicity for an opponent” concept was known by at least 1962 and was used in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who avoided a debate with Barry Goldwater before easily defeating Goldwater on election day.
By Robert Traver
New York, NY: S. Martin’s Press
“For one thing, if we’re ahead, as some say, why give Clint the free publicity ride?”
20 August 1964, Christian Science Monitor, “Strategic Moves Block TV Debate,” pg. 1:
Why give Senator Goldwater additional free publicity, free exposure?
Cranston, the Senator from California
By Eleanor Fowle
San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press
Communicating to the voters the violent consequences of Rafferty’s views required a strategy that repudiated what are often considered cardinal rules of politics: Don’t give your opponent free publicity. Never refer to him by name.
Candidates, Parties, and Campaigns:
Electoral politics in America
By Barbara G. Salmore and Stephen A. Salmore
Washington, DC: CQ Press
A well-known incumbent was thought to be giving an opponent free publicity by mentioning his or her name, even in an attack. The thinking now is that only incumbents who face weak challengers whose charges never penetrate (either because the challenger lacks the money to publicize them or because they are unconvincing) can afford to take the high road…
The Appalling Strangeness
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Go Boris! (Sort of)
He seems to be using the classic politician’s trick of not mentioning his opponent’s name for fear of giving that opponent free publicity.
The Politics of Congressional Elections
By Gary C Jacobson
New York, NY: Pearson/Longman
Ignoring the opposition is a standard tactic of incumbents who feel relatively secure: Why give an unknown opponent free publicity?
The Border: An Eagles Message Board
07-07-2009, 04:26 PM
I minored in political science in college and a basic rule is that the worst thing you can do is give an opponent free publicity.
Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Letters to the Editor
Published: 7:49 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, 2010
There’s also hypocrisy on the party of the Democrats. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson famously said of his refusal to debate Barry Goldwater: “When you’re ahead in the polls, why give your opponent free publicity?”
What was good for LBJ in 1964 should be good for Perry in 2010.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, September 30, 2010 • Permalink