How's this for responding rapidly in a campaign?
-- On Friday, Controller Steve Westly goes on the air with TV ads attacking Democratic primary opponent Treasurer Phil Angelides as someone who's never met a tax he didn't like.
-- On Saturday, newspapers in California — including the Sacramento Bee, with the straightforward headline "Westly first to air negative TV ad" — report that Westly has launched the first television commercial of the primary campaign to name and criticize his opponent.
-- On Monday, the Angelides releases its own commerical, "Westly in his own words," that features video clips of Westly asserting that he will not be the first to resort to negative advertising, with the Sacramento Bee headline superimposed over Westly's image.
The Angelides ad has no narration, no campaign-generated graphics. Justly Westly and a newspaper headline.
"We're just letting people know what Steve Westly said," noted Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo. "It's just 100 percent Steve Westly in his own words."
Maybe the ad will be effective, maybe not. But this much is immediately clear: The Angelides campaign, which seemed somewhat sluggish a month ago, has become agile and very fast on its feet.