AUSTRALIA - After a spectacular comeback as Australia's Prime Minister three months ago, Mr Kevin Rudd pledged to replace an era of negativity with the "politics of hope".
But as the election campaign entered its second half last week, there was little sign of his triumphant promise to be "kinder and gentler".
Instead, Mr Rudd, a former diplomat, found himself trailing badly in the polls and resorted to the age-old tactic of the politically desperate: a nasty scare campaign.
Mr Rudd and the ruling Labor party dispensed with its efforts to preserve his image as a friendly, bookish nerd and began issuing dire warnings about the grave risks of electing opposition leader Tony Abbott.
Apparently ignoring his own campaign motto - "A new way" - Mr Rudd went on the attack. He said Mr Abbott was "on a different planet" and would lead Australia down a British-style austerity path towards recession.
Asked about Labor's negative television advertisements, which began airing a week ago, Mr Rudd told Channel Seven: "We're returning fire - returning fire based on policy facts."
Ironically, Mr Abbott, a London-born former amateur boxer, has also adopted a swift image reversal.
During his four years as opposition leader, Mr Abbott has earned the nickname "Dr No" and become known for his brutal attacks on Mr Rudd and Ms Julia Gillard, who deposed him in 2010 only to lose the leadership to Mr Rudd this year.