Helping Conservative Candidates Gain a Competitive Edge

What the Hell Do We Do Now?

John Boehner speaker of the house US Congress Mitch McConnell US Senate Minority Leadere

 

On Monday morning, October 27 The Wall Street Journal had a headline story, “GOP Targets More House Seats.” Judging from the money moving around it has become apparent the GOP is investing in democratically held seats. Democrats are pulling out of challenger races and using their resources to protect vulnerable incumbents.

At this time of year, if you really want to know what the polls are saying, follow the money. The only question that remains is whether the much ballyhooed advance in the GOP ground operation will match the better ground operation Democrats had in 2012. (“Republicans, outflanked by a superior Democratic turnout operation in the past two presidential elections, have been spending tens of millions of dollars to improve data collection to achieve a rough parity.” NYT 10-26-14.)

What the GOP does with its expected majority in the House and Senate will determine who is elected President in 2016.

The GOP, having concentrated its efforts the last six years on blocking the Obama agenda, needs to prove it can be a governing party. It will need to put a few of its own ideas on the table, and be prepared to defend its policy initiatives. What’s the alternative? Remain little more than an obstructionist Congress–which will become the rallying cry of whoever the Democrats nominate in 2016.

Everybody knows the immigration system is broken. A GOP immigration bill needs to be more than building a fence at the border.

The tax code is an embarrassment to the Republic. Companies are moving overseas, and sitting on trillions in overseas banks accounts that are not being invested in the U.S. because of a punitive tax code. The Tax Code is seven times longer than the Bible and harder to understand than the Old Testament.

Health care reform needs to be more than repealing Obamacare. Certain provisions of it are very popular. The GOP can and should pass a bill that has the reforms their candidates have promised: Giving patients the options to buy health insurance policies they actually like; Giving patients more say in their choices of doctors and hospitals; Allowing consumers to buy policies from other states; Expanding tax protected health savings accounts; Tort reform.

Practically every GOP candidate this year talked about the regulatory nightmare of the Obama years. Devise something that makes sense of the regulatory climate in Washington — a simpler, more transparent process that small business owners can understand and live with.

And if the GOP really wants to be ambitious, it can tackle entitlements and the trillions in deficits that have been tossed onto the backs of young Americans. It isn’t that hard: Index the retirement age to the increase in longevity; Encourage older Americans, many who will remain healthy into their 80’s, to remain in the workforce.

And get real about Medicare. The boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day. Many will run out of money before they run out of life. Unless the nation provides greater incentives for boomers to help pay for the health care they will need as they approach their final years, the Medicare system as it is currently financed will go belly up.

And Obama? Let him veto every bill sent him by the Congress. Worry not about Democrats that vote against it. Most will. What matters is that the GOP will be the party trying to solve a few problems – and acting like a party that can govern.

Disagree? Weigh in. Think there are other things the GOP should do? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.

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Politics is a game of expectations.

Come from behind and win a race you are expected to lose and you’ll be called a genius.

Lose a close race you are expected to win and you’ll be called something else.

Politics is a game of expectations.This past week, both parties have been playing expectations games. Republicans (named and unnamed) are leaking news of good polls, money raised, and spreading the scent of a coming landslide to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and through opinion columns. (This is designed to pry money from beltway and K-Street bigwigs. They fear offending Harry Reid if they give to Republicans. They also fear being on the wrong side if Republicans win.)

Some unnamed Democrats echo the Republican leakers. (This is done to scare unions and democratic funders and black leaders into get-out-the-vote efforts and more money for last minute media buys.)

What is the truth? Obama is a drag on Democrats. Harry Reid and his party are paying a price for a do-nothing Senate. The Republicans still have no message other than ‘we hate Obama too.’ We have the makings of a low turnout election. If the ‘wave’ crests at just the right time, Republicans will win more seats than expected, and declare they have a mandate to oppose Obama. (They have not asked for a mandate to do anything else.) If the wave crests too early, Democrats may do better than expected and they will declare victory even if they lose the Senate.

Another Truth. At this point two years ago, the ruling consultant class, and the Republican smart boys were saying (and also honestly believed) that Romney would win. We know how that turned out.

A Final Truth: Play the expectations game at your own peril. Those who play it are often forced to wear egg on their face. Usually those in the know about the inner workings of a campaign don’t talk. Smart campaign operatives are too smart to believe the spin they see in newspapers. Smart candidates use their ink, tv, radio time to drive home the contrast with their opponent rather than spinning polls. It’s never over until it’s over and if you take your foot off the pedal because of what you see the spin doctors say you deserve to lose.

Campaign & Communication Tips:

How to Handle Sticky Issues on the Campaign Trail & Staying Focused on Issues That Help You Get Votes

Principles Are Not Policy Prescriptions.

How to Win An Election With the Right Campaign Strategy

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How to Handle Sticky Issues on the Campaign Trail & Staying Focused on Issues That Help You Get Votes.

Kay Hagan, Thom Tills

This is the time of the season for debates, contrasting in stark terms the differences between yourself and your opponent, and framing the election choice on your terms.

You don’t win when you spend more time playing defense than offense.

(I tried an experiment on Sunday morning with a couple prominent college football conferences. Want to know who won before you look at the score? Look at the possession time of the two teams. The ones who win are those that spend more time playing offense.)

It’s not what you are saying; it’s what you are talking about. My friend Bill Pascoe coined this one. It is his way of saying that if you do not steer the election agenda to issues that get you votes, you’ll lose no matter what you say. (That’s called offense). Likewise, in a debate a Republican who spends all his/her time discussing the minimum wage, the environment, who will spend more on education or health care will lose no matter how articulate and cogent their answers.

In this post I offer a few examples of how I have advised clients to handle some sticky issues… the war on women… minimum wage… Obamacare… education spending (Safe to assume these clients are center right in their positions). In addition, in this post there are some tactics you can use to keep debates and interviews focused on issues that help get you votes rather than lose them.

 

The Dangerous Issues for Republicans this year and some time-tested responses that have worked:

The War on Women. “The real war on women has been waged by Obama’s economic policies. Single women, mothers with children, and minorities have suffered more in this administration than any other portion of the workforce. There is more income inequality today than 10 years ago. My program will help all Americans climb the economic ladder, help wage earners pay for their child’s education and save money for retirement.”

The Minimum Wage. “All working Americans deserve a raise. The way to do that is grow our economy, not issue a government mandate that will cause 20% of our minimum wage workforce to lose their job.”

Obamacare. “Obamacare has caused skyrocketing insurance rates, is forcing layoffs, making it illegal for Americans to buy insurance policies that fit their needs, and forcing people to give up the doctors they like and want. My plan would give Americans more choices, empower them to buy policies that fit their individual needs and allow patients to keep the doctors they want.”

Education Spending. “We spend more on education today than at any point in American history. And judging by dropout rates and test scores we get less for it than most countries in the industrialized world. Charter and private schools are producing better educated children for less money than public schools. We need to look at what they are doing right, how they do it and learn from them so that all children have a better chance at the American dream.”

 

Staying focused on Issues in Debates and Interviews:

Most fatal mistakes that sink otherwise competitive campaigns happen in October because of words that come out of a candidate’s mouth in a debate, radio or television interview. Usually it is because the candidate is unprepared for the question, or answers it in a way that sounds well….stupid.

David Perdue, Michelle Nunn

Rule one: Practice and Prepare. Don’t even think of winging it. You’ll feel more confident if you are prepared. You’ll perform better if you are prepared. And if the staff preparing you for your debate or interview is on their toes, you will have already practiced the answers to the most difficult questions so that you are not left flat-footed in front of a TV camera.

Rule Two: Don’t go into any debate or interview without knowing the rules of engagement. Will there be an opening and/or closing statement? How long? Will there be a live audience? Who decides who the audience members will be? Will cameras be on you when your opponent is talking? (If so, always wear a smile) Will all the questions come from a moderator or will audience members be allowed to ask questions? How long will you have to answer questions? Will you have a chance to rebut what your opponent says? Will your opponent have a chance to rebut your rebut? Are candidates allowed to ask questions of each other? If you don’t know the rules, it is impossible to properly prepare for the game.

Rule Three: Look the part. Wear makeup when doing TV. Do not wear expensive jewelry, watches or gaudy ties.

Rule Four: Develop a debate/interview strategy. Know before the interview/debate what key points you are going to make…i.e. what you want the press to say in their stories the next day…what you want your audience to remember about you. You should have those talking points burned into your brain cells before the debate/interview and use every question and every answer possible to circle back to your talking points. Yes, it looks rude when you refuse to answer a direct question. But there is no rule that requires that you spend 90 seconds to two minutes answering the question you are asked.

Rule 5: Remember that how you look is sometimes more important than what you say. Voters are also judging your body language and taking a measure of your personality. While they like candidates with convictions, they are usually repulsed by those who snarl or hurl insults or act like they just sucked on a lemon. Smile during the debate and act like you are having fun, for while it is important that you win your points, it is equally important that you look like a likable human being. Voters expect reporters to dig and ask difficult questions and sometimes be combative in the way they do it. Voters expect their candidates to be steady, calm and composed, even in the face of adversity.

 

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Chairman Reince Priebus is to be commended but principles are not policy prescriptions. And, he’s the wrong person to deliver this message.

GOP Chairman, Priebus, rolls out 11 "Principles for American Renewal"

GOP Chairman, Reince Priebus, rolls out 11 “Principles for American Renewal”

Last week Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus rolled out 11 GOP “Principles for American Renewal.” They included, among other profound and provocative items, ‘honoring’ our constitution and ‘growing our economy.’

The Chairman is to be commended for trying to stand for something. He said more about the GOP agenda in 20 minutes than the House and Senate GOP leadership have said in the last 20 months. But principles are a statement of strongly held beliefs and convictions. They are not policy prescriptions.

Thus the address was a little noticed flop…the wrong message at the wrong time from the wrong messenger.

Problem 1. This should have been done last year. According to Karl Rove, the material for the speech was derived from ‘focus groups’ conducted over the summer. Really? You need focus groups to decide what your principles are?

Problem 2. Principles are not Policy. At this stage in the cycle, the GOP should be contrasting how its POLICIES are a better deal for the voters because they put more money in the pockets of Americans, afford more freedom to buy inexpensive health care, allow parents to send their kids to decent schools and keep terrorists off of American soil.

Problem 3. A party leader is the wrong person to be delivering this message. His name is not on the ballot. He is not accountable to voters. Candidates are, and voters need to be hearing from the candidates or the House and Senate GOP leadership at this point.

Problem 4. Few would disagree with any of the 11 principles. Hell, Obama would agree with them. If you are afraid to say anything provocative, controversial or edgy, voters will not notice you. I am surprised the GOP left out #12…better weather…everybody wants that too…and the focus groups really liked the sound of it.

It may well be that the GOP will pick up a dozen house seats and take control of the Senate. If so, it will not be because the GOP won the election. Rather, it will be because Obama and Washington democrats lost it. (They have made more than their share of miscues as well).
What then? The GOP wins with no mandate to do anything because the GOP never asked voters for a mandate to do anything…except oppose Obama.

The United States faces some very difficult challenges. Our military is rusting. Companies are moving overseas. Real wages are falling. Fewer Americans are working today than in 1980. Our borders are a porous mess. The tax code has more holes than a train load of swiss cheese. Americans no longer have their own choice of doctors or health insurance that works for them. We are spending a fortune on schools that can’t teach children to read and write. We have 80 million baby boomers in or on their way to retirement and half of them will run out of money before they run out of life.

Thirty three days before the election, the GOP is offering platitudinous principles. The Democratic Party is waging war against a make-believe war on women. No wonder voters are tired of the circus. It’s not even entertaining any more.

There is a way out of the mess. If history is any guide, somebody will emerge that is not yet a household name that will move, touch and inspire a great nation to rise above the malaise and reclaim its place as the most powerful and advanced civilization on earth. He or she will speak with candor about the sacrifices required, and summon the patriots to come together for the common good. It has been two generations since we had a leader capable of lifting a nation off its knees and restoring the military and economic might we once knew. We are about due for another. It can’t happen soon enough.

 

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Senate Republicans have announced their ‘First 100 days’ agenda should they become the majority party.

Senate Republicans have announced their ‘First 100 days’ agenda.

Senate Republicans have announced their ‘First 100 days’ agenda.

 

They will approve the Keystone pipeline, stop environmental regulations, give the President ‘fast track’ trade authority, and repeal the medical device tax.

Whoever came up with this could not sell sex in a brothel. It is boring, meaningless to most, and devoid of emotional appeal. Worse, it looks like (and probably is) the wish list of K Street lobbyists.

Not a word about the tax code, fixing Obamacare, energy prices, immigration, terrorism, entitlements, putting people back to work or helping Americans find a better paying job. Not even a hint of emotional appeal.

How to inject emotional punch into your platform and rhetoric?

1. When you offer an agenda use language voters can understand. Express your ideas in a way that allows voters to immediately grasp how your agenda would improve their lives.

2. Speak to hearts before you speak to heads. We are inundated with messages every day. The ones that get our attention are those that trigger one of the seven human emotions…anger, sadness, happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt.

3. More important than the how, and even the what, is the why. The why lets voters know you are in touch with their pain, that you share their values, understand the daily challenges they face and are worth listening to.

If anyone can explain how the GOP’s ‘100 day plan’ does any of the above, please do tell in the comment section.

(Article: GOP Senate’s First 100 Days by Alexander Bolton. TheHill.com)

If you are a candidate for federal office, or helping one who is, don’t wait on the GOP to offer a compelling agenda. They don’t know how. Write your own.

What will you do to replace Obamacare with something that allows Americans to keep the doctors they’ve lost, and buy affordable health insurance policies that fits their individual needs? What will you do to create competition that will force insurance companies to cut their prices, and empower Americans to make their own choices instead of having health insurance plans dictated to them? Ideas here.

What will you do to fix a tax code that penalizes work, savings and investment, and gives American companies an incentive to create jobs here instead of overseas? Ideas here.

How will you stop the invasion of the Southern border, fix a broken immigration system and do something that provides security, speed and clarity to the rules about who gets to come in, work, go to college and when they have to leave? Some ideas.

What will you do to foster more energy exploration, drive down the cost of gas, electricity, propane and fuel oil so that Americans can keep more of what they earn? Some ideas.

What is your plan to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare for the next generation, beef up a depleted military, care for veterans, fix bridges and roads? Some ideas.

Before you publish your platform, scrub the rhetoric and make sure it addresses at least one (or more) of the following…how your policies and ideas will improve the lives of your constituents, allow them to get a better and higher paying job, put their kids through college, save on health care costs, put money away for a secure retirement, buy a better house or car, and sleep at night absent fear that a terrorist cell will blow up their neighborhood.

GOP Senate Leadership 'First 100 Days' Agenda

GOP Senate Leadership ‘First 100 Days’ Agenda

When you are done, send it to the GOP Senate leadership. If you follow my rules, it will be better than anything they have come up with. Even better, send it to me at Jay@JayTownsend.com. If it is really good, I’ll share your work so our subscribers can see something with sex appeal instead of the boring blah blah blah blather coming out of Washington.

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You Can Benefit From Some of the Lessons Learned from His Recent and Considerable Stumbles

Humiliation of Governor Andrew Cuomo

An Underfunded College Professor, Zephyr Teachout, Humiliated Andrew Cuomo in Democratic Primary

This post is about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Even if you don’t live in New York, you can benefit from some of the lessons learned from his recent and considerable stumbles.

Cuomo just received 62% of the vote in the Democratic primary; a smaller percentage than he received in the general election four years ago. He lost half the counties in New York. His opponent was an unknown college professor, a woman who until five years ago lived in Vermont. Her name is Zephyr Teachout and she spent about three cents in her campaign.

How and why did the underfunded, unknown, college professor humiliate a Cuomo?

Cuomo looked like a chickenshit, a hypocrite, and acted like a sexist thug. While touting his support of the ‘Women’s Equality Act,’ he spared no penny on lawyers who twice tried to knock his female opponent off the ballot. He refused to debate her, calling debates a ‘disservice to democracy,’ and refused to acknowledge her at a New York City parade where both appeared a few days before the primary. His boorish behavior cost him dearly with female voters.

There is a lesson in this, for all, in how you comport yourself in a campaign. You will look like a chicken if you refuse to debate. And even if you despise your opponent, voters expect you to be civil, especially if you are a man running against a woman. Cuomo treated his opponent in the same manner he treated his wife in their oh-so-messy divorce in 2003, when he used his agents to make sure the details of her adulterous relationship with another man were plastered on the front pages of New York tabloids.

Cuomo hid under his desk during the month before the primary. Voters expect candidates to campaign, to answer questions, face the media, hold forums and well, act like a candidate. Cuomo blew off the media, refused to engage the public, and conducted what some would call a ‘rose garden strategy.’ That may work when times are great, but it won’t work when half of the electorate thinks the state is headed in the wrong direction. Liz Benjamin, a well read blogger in New York, daily reports the Governor’s schedule. For most of the month of August and September it was the same…’Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.’

Cuomo ran against corruption four years ago, then acted corrupt. After he was elected Cuomo formed something called the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption, endowing it with the power to subpoena whatever records it wished, and vowing that the panel would have free reign and independence to ‘investigate any branch of government it saw fit—including the governor’s office.‘ A New York Times investigation this summer revealed that behind the scenes the Governor interfered with the Commission, told Commissioners to ‘walk back’ subpoenas it had issued to entities close to the Governor, including the Democratic party he controls, and an independent committee that spent more than $20 million in undisclosed donations on his behalf. One would think a man with Cuomo’s political skills would know better than to pull a stunt like this under the nose of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox News. Lesson to readers…don’t try to interfere with a prosecutor investigating corruption. If you do, don’t get caught. If you get caught you will pay a price.

The State of New York is reeling. Why do half the voters in New York think the state is headed in the wrong direction? It is. It has the second highest state and local tax burden in the nation, the highest property taxes, the highest energy costs and the worst business climate. More than three million people have left the state since the year 2000. Despite Cuomo’s $50 million dollar, taxpayer funded ad campaign touting New York’s economic progress, few believe it because it doesn’t square with the reality they know. Voters easily recognize bullshit when they see it. And they don’t fancy seeing it on their TV screens. Lesson here? When faced with the reality of tough economic times, acknowledge them and tell voters what you are doing to fix it. Don’t pretend that things are great when they suck.

Cuomo may win this fall if he chooses to learn from his humiliation. I would not count on it. The day after the primary he pronounced himself pleased. If he really believes that voters like him or his record, he is in trouble.

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Voters don’t know what the GOP stands FOR because the GOP hasn’t bothered to tell anybody…

 

The GOP Hasn't Bothered to Tell the Electorate What They Stand For.

The GOP hasn’t passed a single bill that offers the public a clue about how it would fix a country.

With Obama’s approval rating in the toilet, the Senate an embarrassment to the Republic, stagnant economic growth, record millions permanently unemployed, Obamacare’s drag on the economy, the spike in health insurance and patients losing their cherished doctors, ISIS beheading American journalists, Iraq falling to terrorists, Putin thumbing his nose at America, and Obama’s listlessness in the face of it all, 2014 should be a wave election.

It isn’t shaping up that way.The latest FOX News poll has democrats up seven in the generic ballot. USA Pew has democrats up five.

The problem for the GOP?

Too few believe the GOP has a plan to make anything better. That is not the fault of the media, or Obama, or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. It is the fault of the GOP, those who speak for it, and the paucity of ideas and policy options being offered by GOP candidates running for Congress and the Senate. Voters don’t know what the GOP stands FOR because the GOP hasn’t bothered to tell anybody, or pass a single bill that offers the public a clue about how it would fix a country.

Say what we will about Obama’s version of tax reform, immigration policy, health care policy, job creation policy, foreign policy or lack thereof…the fact is that the GOP has offered precious little to demonstrate that it has a coherent idea how to make things better.

The warnings are everywhere, and for good reason:

From McLaughlin and Associates, National Review Online…”The Republicans need to get back on offense and set an election agenda.”

From Karl Rove…”It’s vital that GOP candidates give a sense of their governing priorities.”

From the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley…”The GOP might also keep in mind that voters want to know what the party supports.” 

And a WSJ editorial damning the GOP’s messageless strategy…”Maybe Republicans should try to improve their odds by telling voters what they would do if they win.” 

Message to GOP candidates: Invest in positive advertising this season…clearly state what you are for; tell voters what you will do with the job if you get it. It will pay dividends. Voters expect it, and they are going to be really intolerant and antagonistic toward those who offer only anti-Obama blather. They already are.

Message to the GOP leadership: If your efforts to pick up House and Senate seats this fall come up short, save us the excuses and the blame game. It will be your fault.

 

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Making Sure Those Friendly Super-PACs Help, Not Hurt, Candidates They Hope to Get Elected

How to ensure that friendly Super-Pacs help, not hurt. Image by Donkey Hotey. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/t

Friendly Super-PACs, like Citizens United, may be hurting candidates, as much as helping.

Anybody who has ever been in charge of a competitive, high-stakes campaign knows the drill. Painstaking research, poll testing strategic ideas, finding what works, crafting the complicated into a compelling message, war-gaming and anticipating how the opponent will respond to the strategy, and making sure there is enough money to prosecute the advertising effort.

The Citizens United decision changed everything. Because the Super-PACs have more money and easier access to it, they can and often do overwhelm the firepower of the candidates, and their message. When the Super PACs are setting the agenda, the candidates become mere pawns on the chess table.

Bad enough that candidates must face down their opponents and their Super PAC allies, but as Karen Tumulty recently noted in a Washington Post story, the Super PACs that are ‘friendly’ to a candidate are often the ones causing the greatest headache. According to her story, a left wing Super PAC running an ad aimed at helping Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa’s Senate race has Braley’s manager baffled and “Iowans scratching their heads.”

The Problem with friendly Super PACS?

Problem One: They don’t have access to the same information that candidates do. They don’t have the same research, the same polls, the same playbook, or the same understanding of local politics or issues. In fact, they are often written and produced by professional character assassins who know little about the people, culture, jurisdiction or state where the ads are aired. Worse, some of the ads have all the originality of a McDonald’s hamburger.

Problem Two: Super PACs are not accountable to the candidate. They answer only to the donors that fund the expenditure. They don’t have to “live” with the outcome, or their mistakes the way a candidate’s team or campaign manager does.

Problem Three: When an IE or Super PAC is confusing the electorate, or overwhelming the message of the campaign, or defining the election in a way that hurts the candidate, it’s illegal for a candidate or their staff to pick up the phone and ask that they knock it off.

Below are some Solutions. Not perfect, but it beats having a Super PACs running ads about the virtues of prayer in school when the strategy calls for defining the election on taxes, energy costs, health care or creating new jobs.

Solution 1. Post the Television and radio ads you are running…on your website, in email blasts, and social media…in a prominent place on the homepage, and under a tab on radio and television. Make it easy to others to download your ads and the scripts. You might even post the scripts or storyboards of an unproduced spot, entitled “Ads we’d run if we could afford to.” Be sure to put up your ‘b-roll’ so friends have footage they can use.

Solution 2. Put your mail on the website, and a clean copy of your logo. Hi-res, so that friends can download camera ready artwork. That lets Super PACs know what you are doing and what your message is. Along with the mail, post flattering, hi-res photographs that Super PACs can download and use in their mail pieces. Likewise, post pictures of your opponent so Super PACs don’t have to go looking for them.

Solution 3. If you really want to be aggressive, have your creative people design and post mail pieces even if you can’t afford to print them or pay the postage. Create a tab called “Mail we’d send if we could afford to, and who we’d send it to.”

Solution 4. Repeat steps above for phone call scripts, digital ads and targets, and newspaper ads so that your friends know how to help instead of hurt, and promote you in a way that enhances your chances of winning.

Solution 5. Post your best oppo research. The stuff you want the public to know. The contrasts you want the public to see. And make sure it is accurate. It is the most valuable information you can offer someone who wants to help.

I’ve given up on the notion that any controlling legal authority will ever be able to stop or stem the flow of money in American politics. Perhaps one of these days we’ll come to our senses and let candidates raise all they want from whoever cares to give it. It would not be a perfect system, but it would be better than what we have now with unaccountable committees and unaccountable people usurping the message of candidates for public office.

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Congrats GOP Establishment. Now what?

You Beat the Tea Party.
So Why are You Still losing in the Court of Public Opinion?

 

GOP Establishment has beaten back the Tea Party Faction but will Republicans win in a landslide by ignoring the battle of ideas in the court of public opinion?

Beware GOP Establishment. You’ve beaten back the Tea Party Faction but ignored the battle of ideas in the court of public opinion.

A congratulatory message is in order for the GOP establishment. It has beaten back the tea party faction of the Republican Party in Senate and House primaries this year. (That would be the faction that provided the energy, manpower, drive and determination that put the GOP back in the majority in 2010).

In concentrating its cannons and millions on the tea party however, the GOP establishment has ignored the battle of ideas in the court of public opinion. Silence on that front is not a good political strategy.

Ask a patron of Walmart or Target or workers at a factory gate what the GOP stands for and you’ll hear democratic talking points—a price the GOP is paying for failing to pass its own version of health care reform, or tax reform, or immigration reform, or anything that suggests it has a few ideas on how to create new jobs or hike the living standard of the middle class.

Indeed, four organizations have conducted surveys testing the generic ballot since mid-July, including FOX, Rasmussen, CNN and Pew. All have democrats moving into a 2-4 lead. Even the ever eternal optimist Dick Morris is no longer sure the GOP will recapture the Senate.

Perhaps the architects of the GOP strategy will be proven correct—that the best way to win is by muting the dissonant voices of the GOP coalition, pronouncing their fidelity to the hate Obama caucus and passing around ‘Obama No’ buttons to their candidates.

But I don’t see the left emulating the GOP playbook, or trying to mute their most liberal voices, or silencing the discordant soloists in their choir. And right now they are winning.

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Mr. Christie. What’s the Thinking?

Christie’s Takedown of Astorino. Political Payback Will Come. Count On It.

This is a lesson about payback, and how NOT to win good will on your way to a convention battle for the Republican Presidential nomination.

Chris Christie Says of Rob Astorino, "We don't invest in lost causes."s

Political Payback for Christie’s comments about Astorino’s run for New York Governor

In Connecticut on July 21, Governor Chris Christie and current Chairman of the Republican Governors Association was asked about Rob Astorino and the race for Governor in New York. He dismissed Astorino’s candidacy with a tart “we don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes.”

According to a well written post by Zack Fink in New York’s State of Politics, Astorino tried behind the scenes to give Christie an easy out, quietly asking Christie to fix the damage by walking back his comments or throwing Astorino a bone. Astorino got the back of Christie’s sizable hand.

He dismissed Astorino’s candidacy with a tart, “we don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes.” -Chris Christie of Republican Candidate for New York Governor Rob Astorino

 

Let’s start with Christie’s double standard—his assertion that the RGA does not pay for landslides. It bought Christie one, investing $1.7 million in Christie’s 2013 race against a name I bet you cannot remember—a race Christie won by 22 points. Likewise, RGA is spending serious money to run up the score in New Mexico and Iowa, where GOP incumbents face weak opponents.

Don’t invest in lost causes? Why is Christie in New Hampshire touting a GOP candidate 20 points behind? Or the GOP candidate in California who is down by 20? Does anyone remember Christie’s lost cause in 2009 when he emerged from a bruising and expensive primary battle flat broke and facing self funder Jon Corzine? It was RGA money that lifted Christie off his knees.

I just finished reading Pat Buchanan’s book about Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority. In 1966, Nixon campaigned for House candidates all over the country, going anywhere and everywhere he was asked. Nixon found something nice to say about every GOP candidate on the ballot. He built good will, which paid handsomely on his first ballot victory at the 1968 Republican National Convention.

If Christie is serious about building bridges to a Presidential campaign, why is he burning them? …Particularly with a guy like Astorino…bright, articulate, energetic, well-spoken…a darn good County Executive…and the best candidate the GOP has fielded in New York since George Pataki last ran for reelection.

There is a thing called pay-back in politics. Even if Astorino comes up short in his race against Cuomo, he’ll still be a County Executive until 2017 in one of New York’s largest counties. If he wants, he’ll go to the 2016 Republican National Convention as a delegate, with a number of other delegates who genuinely like him. Who could blame Astorino if he makes sure Christie doesn’t get a single damn vote from the New York delegation?

Just asking.

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