Rick did warn Iggy...
...that the Tories would define him with attack ads before he could define himself.
The Tories' first wave of anti-Iggy ads, the "Just Visiting" ads that skewered him for being out of the country for 34 years, broke way back in May 2009. It was proactive, a pre-emptive strike - and cost a rumoured $3 million. Worth every penny, in hindsight.
That Iggy chose not to respond is odd of both him and his Official Opposition leader team. Why, just five years earlier John Kerry self-destructed by feeling it below him to debunk the Swift Boat ads. It's not as if Iggy could have missed that, Kerry representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate and all, and Iggy toiling at Harvard, which I believe is located in the Bay State and hosted the DNC that nominated Kerry as the Dem presidential candidate.
Any-hoo, the Tories unleashed a second set of anti-Iggy ads that ran from last November through early this year. These again asserted that Ignatieff is a power-hungry carpetbagger - "He's not in it for you."
Again, no counter-attack. Partly it's that the Iggy, like Kerry, would not deign to stoop to "his" level. Partly it's that the Grits didn't have a coherent message with which to respond in any case. And the Tories simply have way more money.
An irony of Chretien's election-finance returns, conspicuously too late to harm Chretien himself, is that they wiped out the Grits' corporate donor base. They also took out the Dippers' union donors, but Layton, on becoming leader, quickly built a grassroots small-donor base to replace it. Grits didn't do that, even after Howard Dean's campaign pioneered online small-money donations, in 2004, and Obama took that up 50 notches and raised more campaign funds than any presidential candidate in history. Didn't the Grits know about this? I mean, it was in all the papers.
The CPC, meanwhile, has the unsurpassed small-money donor machine, a legacy of its grassroots Reform beginnings.
Noting how flush the Tories were even after securing a second victory in 2008, Rick Mercer warned that the Tories had also become rather fond of attack ads. (Guess the Grit brain trust doesn't watch the CBC, either.)