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Campaign Civility IS Possible

Show the candidates you're fed up with negative politics

Bringing back civility to the presidential campaign. For Civility in the Campaign.

Is it possible to bring back civility to the presidential campaigns? — Illustration by John Corbitt

The very headline suggests we have an uphill battle convincing most people that civility and etiquette are still possible in American presidential campaigns — since we felt obliged to highlight the word "is." Most people believe just the opposite, that incivility and negativity are the rule and can't be changed.

Keep up to date with AARP's Election 2012 blog.

As public affairs consultants now working together, we have a unique vantage point for this election year.

We're especially concerned with citizens and their disaffection with politics. We are also alarmed by the overemphasis on negative attack ads by President Obama and Gov. Romney and have decided it's time to speak up. The nasty deluge of negative ads during the Republican primaries was just the start. Since then, the two candidates and the super PAC organizations supporting them have spent more than $100 million attacking each other's character and motives — and that's just in the swing states. Obama's ads accuse Romney of not caring about American workers because he allowed his former company, Bain Capital, to invest in companies that outsourced jobs to foreign countries. (Put aside that Romney was indisputably working full time in Utah to save the 2002 Winter Olympics from a corruption scandal and was uninvolved in Bain's management.)

And Romney accuses Obama, in effect, of being a liar because he promised to reduce unemployment to below 8 percent, which he has not done. (Put aside that Obama inherited a high unemployment rate and a national recession bordering on the Great Depression when he took office in January 2009.

Next: Do candidates pay a political price for negative ads? »

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