Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

On the Obama Response Team

I agree with Dan that the response to McCain’s latest silly ad is mostly on the mark, but Obama needs to do more. Much more. I sometimes disagree with Armando over at TalkLeft (he seems to be hypercritical of Obama on occasion), but his criticism of Obama on his response strategy is spot on:

So John McCain is being bashed for his mendacious ad about Obama not visiting the troops because he could not bring cameras. Whoop dee doo. The problem is for three days that ad got run on free media. Dirty politics works and McCain has now shown who will go as far down in the gutter as it takes.

And why not? Dirty politics works. The Gallup tracker now has a once 9 point gap Obama held down to 4. Rassmussen has its Obama 7 point gap down to 2. Three guesses how that happened.

I’ve come around to the thinking that the Obama team response to McCain’s ridiculous attacks is not sufficient by a long shot. McCain’s Ads are indeed awful, but firing off press releases is simply not enough. There needs to be a series of hard-hitting response Ads from the Obama camp. I think McCain’s attacks are driving up his negatives, but I completely agree it is having an effect on the polling. Frankly, I don’t understand what Senator Obama is waiting for. This is the time when candidates get defined, and Obama isn’t doing enough to define McCain.

Update: David Axlerod has gone on the attack now on this. Good, but we need more, however. Response Ads are the key.


July 30, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy | , , ,


  1. “This is the time when candidates get defined, and Obama isn’t doing enough to define McCain.”

    Absolutely right on this Turner. McCain = clueless old man regarding the economy and 3rd Bush term. It’s as simple as that. Why isn’t the Obama campaign defining him with repetition?

    Comment by dansac | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. I agree. I am beginning to really wonder what their strategy is.

    I fully expect some tough new ads out tomorrow.

    Comment by jenontheshore | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. Jen, I’ve been waiting for their tough ads for a long time, I’m starting to wonder if they’ll ever come.

    But the response I get from my contact in the campaign is that they are investing more in ground-game building now and positive ads, and they think McCain won’t get any traction in the summer. Then they’ll be more aggressive in the fall (so they say).

    I disagree with it, and don’t get it, but that’s what it is.

    Comment by dansac | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. P.S. I’d add how important surrogates are in this. A coordinated surrogate strategy with some attack dogs speaking from tough talking points will do the trick. Where are the surrogates?!

    Comment by dansac | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. I agree that they need to hit back much harder than they have been, but I think it’s too early to tell if the McCain attack ads have been working. I disagree with Armando that they must be the result of the attack ads. Obama’s high poll numbers were a peak, due to the heavy coverage his overseas trip got, and it’s no surprise that they are slipping a bit now that he is back home.

    Trackering polls also tend to fluctuate naturally. There are a number of explanations for the potential shift, and Armando oversimplifies the issue to fit his narrative.

    Comment by smashartist | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. I feel like it’s BLASPHEMY to even say this out loud, but I think that if Hillary was our nominee, Mccain would be more aggressively defined right now. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that I wish things had turned out differently cause I certainly DON’T. But I am hoping that when she goes on the campaign trail next week, attacking Mccain will be her focus. This leaves Obama’s brand completely intact while exposing all the ways that Mccain is a disaster.

    If THAT’S their strategy, then I will relax a little bit.

    Comment by jenontheshore | July 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. Responded to this post with a post above.

    Comment by dansac | July 30, 2008 | Reply

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