One presidential candidate, at the Family Research Council D.C. Briefing, passed a little noticed milestone:

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Ex-Sen. Fred Thompson used campaign funds to pay for a pamphlet that casts his fellow candidates in a less-than-flattering flight. It's the first example of non-email contrast advertising -- in this case, printed advertising, used by any major candidate, Republican or Democrat.

The pamphlet is entitled "Where Are They On The Issues That Matter Most To Your Family?" --
A subhead says that 'Fred Thompson Has A "Demonstrated Record Of Supporting Human Life." "Rudy Giuliani Is Vocally Pro-Choice." "Mitt Romney Was Proudly Pro-Choice Until 2005." The picture of Romney is captioned "Romney, moving to the left of Ted." As in Kennedy.)

The bottom includes this disclaimer: "Paid For By Friends Of Fred Thompson, Inc."
The content is factual; the context is only slightly misleading in the way that most candidate contrast ads are misleading, but not misleading enough to warrant the adjective "outright." It's fair -- if a bit simplistic.

One of the big remaining questions of this race is whether and when the challengers -- Romney, Thompson, Obama, Edwards, will air television ads that mention the frontrunners, Giuliani and Clinton. If they do, those ads will probably be labeled as "negative," but that's not an accurate description.
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Still, Thompson's small step is one big step for campaign-kind. In a sense, it opens the door for other candidates to follow him. And it suggests that Thompson won't hide behind good ol' Southern manners in the forthcoming debates.

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