Mayoral candidates get testy over credibility
When George Smitherman went after Rob Ford at this week’s mayoral debate, he did so with the intention of trying to get his opponent to say something that would hurt his credibility.
When Ford answered the question by rhyming off his philanthropic record with youth in his community, he passed his first big campaign test: Can Rob Ford control himself when put in a corner?
Ford’s ability to temper his response to attacks in the past has been mediocre at best. It’s ironically one of the traits that people appreciate about him. Similarly, Smitherman has been known to have tirades when placed in a similar situation and has attained a fair bit of support for his outbursts as well.
The objective of these two similar political figures is to manage the angry responses, but not go too far to irritate the voter. Both Smitherman and Ford know that if they start to lose support, the voters will most likely go to either Rossi, Pantalone or Mammoliti, not each other. In essence, Smitherman and Ford could play unlikely and unwilling kingmakers if they are not too careful about their attacks on each other.
What I found most interesting about Smitherman’s decision to go after Ford is that it is a clear indication that the Smitherman camp is a bit nervous about Ford’s recent momentum. Front-runners don’t often go on the offensive with their opponents in a personal manner at such an early stage in the election. By doing so, the voter is often left with the impression that the front-runner may not be the front-runner after-all.
Ford’s personal and political history is less than spotless, but then again so is Smitherman’s. These two candidates may be playing a dangerous game from their glass houses if they choose to get too personal throughout the next five months on the campaign trail.
Regardless of the results of this mayoral election, I think this year will go down as one of the most important and exciting campaigns in recent memory.