There’s still hope if you get your act together
By Jamie Miller
I’m often asked by friends, colleagues or members of the press to tell them what advice I would give if I were involved with Sen. McCain’s campaign.
Here is what I would tell McCain.
First, with 28 days until Election Day, all is not lost. The economy is bad, the debates were bad and the campaign has been bad. The good news is, you are running against an opponent who has still not made the sale to the American people.
There is a flaw with Barrack Obama that swing voters have identified that you have not. Find out what it is and exploit it. I think you are getting close by calling Obama risky, but you haven’t articulated why.
Is he risky because Democrats effectively socialized the failed mortgage industry? Or, is it that Obama wants to socialize health care which will also fail?
In one of Obama’s commercials he says that “real change” would equal “shared responsibility.” Didn’t we just share a ton or responsibility in the mortgage socialization that led to our current economic crisis?
It’s too risky to have a liberal Democrat president with liberals leading both chambers of Congress. You came close to saying this in the most boring town hall debate in the history of mankind when you said that “Obama has never taken on the leadership of his own party.”
John, you can’t just show voters the dots – you have to connect them. Conversely, you have to articulate that you will lead the country in a new direction. This direction does not have to be away from our mostly conservative roots, but it does have to include a few no-brainers like developing renewable resources; and not just oil and nuclear power. It should also include things like openness in government versus doing everything behind closed doors as the Bush Administration has done.
While painting Obama as too risky for America, you have to “corner the brand” on being the stable leader and someone who can be trusted. These are naturals for you.
Right now, swing voters are confused. They don’t want to have more of the past eight years. They don’t particularly want to vote Republican, but they know you are different from Bush. You have a career of showing that you are a maverick, but you must also show them the specific instances when you have taken on the administration – win or lose.
Show Americans that you are the original maverick. Swing voters also have not warmed up to Barrack Obama; you need to take advantage of this position. They have forgotten about Rev. Wright, they haven’t heard that Democrats socialized the mortgage industry under the Clinton Administration, and they forget that Obama wants to socialize medicine through “shared responsibility.” Tell them! Tell them soon! Tell them loud!
Obama wants to demean our military by putting our men and women in uniform on the same level as the Peace Corps. It’s hard to believe that no one is talking about this risky, liberal idea. Obama said in both debates that he wants to give volunteers in the Peace Corps the same benefits as those who serve in our military. What? We’re going to give a bunch of hippy, dope-smokers the same benefits as those who are in harm’s way fighting terrorism? Is this the type of change America wants? I don’t think so.
Obama says he is for change, but swing voters are not convinced that he stands for the type of change they want. I suspect that many believe the change Obama brings to the future will not be based on the values of our past. Values like capitalism, free enterprise, the ability to work hard and honest to get ahead while also embracing new technologies that will make us better in the future. You show voters that his change is not good for America.
Gov. Palin has been both an asset and a liability to your campaign. I believe more of an asset because she ignites the base. You have to make sure that the light stays on you, however, because she is such a personality that everyone wants to see her, interview her, etc. The problem is that Obama has effectively framed this election about his experience vs. Gov. Palin’s. You have to make this election about Obama vs. McCain. Keep Palin out there firing up the base and you take the interviews. People are going to either vote for you or against you. There are very few who are going to cast a vote based upon Gov. Palin.
While you are trying to paint Obama as “risky” he is trying to paint you as “erratic.” It was a mistake to suspend your campaign. You can’t fix that now, but if you are going to bring it up in a debate, you have to hit home that the behind-closed-door-deal that was being brokered by Democrats was brought into the open for Americans to see because of your involvement.
Too much of the messaging of your campaign is based upon you being president not becoming president. During last night’s debate, you answered the question, “Is Russia under Vladimir Putin an evil empire?” You answered with “maybe.” Go listen to Tom Brokaw’s chuckle when he reiterates “maybe.” All of America had the same nervous laughter. You went on to describe that if you answered yes, it meant that we would be reigniting the Cold War, but if you answered no, it ignored their behavior. You followed with an even better response. Too bad most of the viewers who were left at the end of this dull-fest were twitching on the floor over your answer of “maybe.” You have to speak to the American people like you want to become president, not like you already are.
You have to run the last four weeks like you are a Washington outsider who is a maverick, not a Washington insider who is a maverick.
There’s still hope John, but you need to run more like you did in 2000 than you have in the last six months of 2008. Voters are longing for some straight talk.
Jamie Miller is a political consultant specializing in political campaign management, strategic planning, public relations and crisis communications. He has been involved with running and managing political campaigns since 1994. E-mail him at: Repjam@aol.com.