That dollop landed when Peters put out a social media clip that appeared to be inspired by the spaghetti Western classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
It featured Peters getting on a horse, complete with Western movie showdown music, talking about experience and ending with “this is not our first rodeo” and his trademark grin.
Peters naturally cast himself as Eastwood, who was the “good” of the title.
Meanwhile, Labour was getting a strong taste of the ugly as polls continued to roll in showing Labour on the slide and in the 20s. Four have now had Labour below that 30 mark (and it’s only just holding onto 30 with its own pollsters, Talbot Mills Research).
It will not be until the next round of polls that we can see how voters have responded to the big hit policies: National’s tax cuts (and the questions about how it will pay for them), Labour’s free dental care, and the response to the start of the campaign proper.
However, sub-30 is the level at which panic can set in. Over the past few elections, there has been little change in the polls between about now and the election day result.
While Hipkins is managing to hold his nerve, it is obvious others in Labour are not.
That is partly because Hipkins has said he is more than willing to fight for the win by taking on his opponents and trying to highlight to voters what a National-Act government would do.
The gloves have at least been unlaced, if they are not off altogether.
That has clearly had a liberating effect on others around him and some may have taken it too far: hence a string of over-statements and misrepresentations in debates and on social media by Labour candidates and the campaign team.
Hipkins needs to tidy that up quickly. He is supposed to have the advantage of experience over Luxon. He should not be spending the first week of the campaign trying to mop up own-goal errors about whether disabled people get half-price or free public transport.
National has been quick to point to all of this as desperation and that has not been hard to sell – because it does indeed look very much like desperation.
Make no mistake, National’s strategists will have been delighted to wake up on Monday morning to see that Council of Trade Unions attack ad on its leader Christopher Luxon on the front page of the NZ Herald.
National will see that ad as worth a few points in the polls from voters who see it as foul play.
It is totally legitimate for the CTU to mount a campaign in the election. There are policies at stake it has a strong interest in: National plans to re-introduce 90-day trials for employees to all and does not like the Fair Pay Agreements.
The regime for so-called “third parties” in the election allows interest groups to campaign in an election and spend up to $391,000.
The register of third parties includes unions and right-wing groups, such as the Taxpayers’ Union and Ground Swell.
The rules require them to be transparent so voters know who is behind such ads. The CTU did that.
Voters on the left will think the ad is a wondrous thing which will convince voters Luxon is not worth taking a risk on.
However, there is some squeamishness among voters about such blunt attacks. They rarely change votes.
This will have had the effect of consolidating National voters around Luxon – a group which had previously clearly been a bit uncertain about him.
Luxon has largely kept himself out of the weeds on the attack ads and left it to his campaign chair Chris Bishop to deal with instead.
We had the eye-roll inducing sight of Bishop, all faux sad-eyes and high dudgeon, crying foul about attacks from the left.
After all, Bishop can hardly claim he has taken the high road when it comes to dabbling in meme attacks of Labour’s policies and personnel more than once.
Luxon, on the other hand, is clearly not comfortable with the bare-knuckle stuff.
When it comes up he tends to cede to one of his team and stands to the side with an expression that varies from distaste to bafflement.
The ad and the response to it has had the effect of distracting attention away from Hipkins’ efforts to show Labour has not run out of ideas through policies such as free dental care.
It has also distracted attention from his attempts to highlight the holes in National’s policies and get people asking whether National’s tax cuts will deliver enough to make them worth the cost.
It is in that area Labour actually has some chance of success rather than in trying to vilify Luxon personally.
It also meant Hipkins very quickly lost the positive momentum from Labour’s campaign launch – a vibe that was supposed to set him up for the first week of the campaign.
Instead, Hipkins spent a good part of the start of the week in an admittedly entertaining comedy routine, running through printed copies of memes and ads from National MPs and right-wing interest groups which attacked Labour.
National has not had a trouble-free run: there has been intense and deserved scrutiny of whether its tax cuts plan stacks up.
Luxon has faced questions about what will have to give if it transpires National’s plans, such as the foreign buyers and gambling tax, do not raise enough to pay for the tax cuts. Will it break or bend its promise to deliver them, will it borrow, or will it make deeper cuts in spending elsewhere than it has promised? His answers have been far from convincing.
But as far as National and probably a fair few voters are concerned, that is a problem for a post-election tomorrow.
The upcoming Pre-Election Fiscal and Economic Update on Tuesday will spark another round of questions about National’s ability to afford those tax cuts on top of its other promises.
But they will be quietly pleased with the campaign and Luxon’s performance so far.
Much of Luxon’s campaign team is former PM Sir John Key’s old campaign team and it shows: the same kind of campaign is in action.
It is geared at offering good, occasionally cheesy, opportunities for the cameras of Luxon out there smiling, chatting to voters and doing things: from gelato scooping races to cricket and jet boating.
He has not had many missteps, and those he has had have not been major. The cherry on the top has been that the most intense scrutiny has been on Act rather than National candidates so far.
His personal rankings have slowly been improving to the point he is now level-pegging with Hipkins as preferred PM.
Luxon’s performance on the campaign so far has given no reason to halt that trend.
The prospect of having to contend with Peters post-election is an ever-present shadow, but so far, the overall vibe has been of Luxon looking as if he’s enjoying it.
That matters on a campaign.
Hipkins now needs to try and follow suit. He is not a pessimistic person, but on the early days of the campaign he’s looked a bit beleaguered.
It’s one thing to say you still think you have a good chance, and another entirely to convince yourself and the voters that you actually do.
As Eastwood’s contemporary John Wayne might say, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Claire Trevett is the NZ Herald’s political editor, based at Parliament in Wellington. She started at the NZ Herald in 2003 and joined the Press Gallery team in 2007. She is a life member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.