Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

McCain Camp Just Handed Obama a Huge Gift

It may not seem enormous at first, but follow my logic and you will see where we’re going with this. It could end up providing the theme that frames the rest of the election. In an article on Politico which explains why the McCain campaign doesn’t care anymore about being seen as nasty and untruthful, we get this gem from McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers:

“Clearly we intend to stay on offense,” Rogers said. “That’s what we need to do because the campaign is fundamentally about him. We feel comfortable about the ads we’re running and arguments we’re making.”

The campaign, according to the McCain team, is fundamentally about Obama. Think about that. Not just a campaign tactic, but the race itself is fundamentally about Obama according to them. What does that mean? It means McCain thinks the race is fundamentally NOT about the American people or solving their problems. Now, see what happens when you put the different pieces together:

First, we had Rick Davis say:

“This election is not about issues,” said Davis. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

So not about issues, but personalities. We know Obama has been saying that repeatedly on the trail making that accusation, but something about it lacks ooomph, or power.

What didn’t lack power was when Obama forcefully said:

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s about you.

Now, throw in Jeffrey Feldman’s excellent frameshop analysis:

I call this the ‘Solve Real Problems’ frame and it has the potential to set the stage for Democrats to win the election.

And we now have the makings for a great theme to be hammered home in the final two months. Here’s my own take on it, but you see what I’m getting at:

The McCain campaign has long argued that this elections is about personalities and not issues. I’ve said, of course they want it to be about personalities because they have no issues to run on. But now I see it’s something worse. The McCain campaign just said, “fundamentally, this campaign is about ME.”

Think about that. The reason they’re running. The fundamental reason behind this election is me, according to McCain. No wonder he said the other night he’s divorced from the reality of day-to-day people. How far out of touch do you have to get when the reason you’re running to lead this country is…me?

I am not running because of me. I am not running because of John McCain. Fundamentally this campaign is about you. I am running to solve your real problems. To fix the real economic crunch you’re in. To help you with your house. To help lower the price of your gas. To help get you a better job that pays more. To help send your kids to college. To help give you health care. To lower your taxes. There is one reason I’m running and there is one thing that this campaign is fundamentally about: YOU.

I said earlier the problem wasn’t that John McCain doesn’t care, it’s because he doesn’t get it. I was wrong. When his campaign says that the fundamental reason to run for the highest office in the land is me and not you, then it is clear: he doesn’t care.

Well, I’m running because I remember where I came from, how I was brought up, and I want to solve the problems of the people I knew as a child and on the streets of the cities and towns where I’ve lived and worked.

If John McCain doesn’t think the campaign is about you, how can he pretend to solve your problems? Fundamentally, this campaign is about YOU. I will solve your real problems.

So here’s how you take it home in the stretch run:

1) Obama should repeat some variation of that (no doubt more artful than I could come up with) at every stop and every speech: “McCain doesn’t think the election is about you, I do. I will solve your real problems.”

2) Biden should repeat some variation of it.

3) Michelle, Hillary, and Bill should repeat some variation of it.

4) Every last possible surrogate should get on TV and repeat some variation of it.

5) TV Ads should repeat the charge. Mix up the ads with regular folks talking about it. Bring back Barney Smith. Have every day people say, “McCain talks about change, but it’s a joke. His own campaign said the election is about Obama, not about everyday people. Well, Obama’s the only one who’s going to solve our problems.”


And Barack, get back to some big rallies again. Inspire us. As Peggy Noonan, of all people, says:

Out of the shirtsleeves, into the suit. Stop prowling the stage with what looks like Phil Donahue’s old mic. No more scattered, listless riffs; back to the podium and the prepared—and focused—speech.

That’s right. Maybe a town-hall or two will be fine, but otherwise, get back to the big venues and inspire us again, especially the youth. Sign up volunteers and continue to register voters.

And you have a huge gift that just landed in your hands: the McCain campaign basically said the campaign is not about the American people. Use it, and use it fast.


September 13, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I like your idea and so I forwarded it to the Obama blog comments section. Headquarters reads the blog. Let’s win this thing.

    Comment by SharonAustinTX | September 14, 2008 | Reply

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