The mutual recriminations between Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima continued to heat up on Tuesday when the Likud responded to Kadima's anti-Netanyahu campaign with a new campaign attacking Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Kadima started a campaign under the slogan "Bibi is the same Bibi" on Monday. Kadima strategists will soon start distributing video clips on the Internet of Netanyahu's mistakes handling the Hamas when he was prime minister.
The Likud's campaign will depict Olmert as a "serial mistake-maker," focusing on three primary mistakes: Allowing Jerusalem Arabs to vote in the Palestinian election, giving money to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas's victory and the violence in Amona.
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Netanyahu focused on these three issues in a speech he delivered in a Likud rally in Tiberias.
In an interview with Channel 10, Netanyahu called the government's handling of Amona "brutal" and the decision to give money to the PA "a mistake we will pay for."
The goal of the Likud campaign is to depict Olmert as inexperienced and lacking the good judgment and cool headedness that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was known for. The Likud's focus groups found that Olmert is seen as a weak, zigzagging leader who changed his mind on the issue of giving money to the PA.
"We see that Kadima is under pressure because they started an unnecessary negative campaign against Netanyahu, because they responded unnecessarily to Labor's attack on government corruption and because they allowed Olmert to be interviewed," a Likud strategist said.
Netanyahu scoffed at Kadima's negative campaign against him in a press conference at the Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters, saying, "They are stooping to a low level because they have no answers."
Internal Likud polls have found that 25 percent of the Likud voters who left for Kadima would consider coming back to the Likud, which would sway five mandates from Kadima to Likud. Other polls have found that Olmert's support in the public has fallen significantly even though Kadima has not dropped in the polls.
The Likud will place ads in the Jerusalem weekly newspapers this weekend to remind Jerusalemites of Olmert's mistakes during his decade as their mayor. The party will unveil its first election commercial to reporters on Wednesday.
Wednesday is also the day when most parties will submit their Knesset lists to the central elections committee at the Knesset. Party officials will also ask the committee for letters that will represent the party on the ballots in the March 28 election.
Kadima sent volunteers to wait outside the Knesset already on Sunday to make sure the party gets the letters it wants, which are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The party will reportedly ask for the letters kaf and nun, which spell "yes" in Hebrew.
Kadima will inaugurate its new Jerusalem branch on Wednesday in the capital's Talpiot neighborhood.