If you are running for office, or plan to someday, there are valuable lessons in the events of the past few days. Today, some thoughts on preempting, avoiding, and dealing with an October surprise.
Lesson 1. Offer a compelling message. If two-thirds of your jurisdiction think it is headed in the wrong direction, you had best be offering a compelling policy initiative or a fresh new policy direction. Mrs. Clinton has not. Instead her campaign has been a mishmash of niche appeals to demographic components of her coalition.
Ask 10 people her vision for the country, or one big thing she is going to do, and you’ll find 10 people who struggle with the question, and none will have the same answer. Mrs. Clinton would be in a much stronger position, and much better able to handle a body blow had she given voters a compelling reason to vote for her, not just against Mr. Trump.
Lesson 2: Always save some good cannon fire for the final stages of the campaign. Mrs. Clinton has been given gifts of gold by the Trump campaign…his words, his bizarre behavior, his course language, you name it. And Clinton’s opposition research team has mined even more. The trouble is she apparently fired the best cannons early, giving voters time to digest the information and time for Trump to recover.
In a campaign, inventory your ammunition…and always…always save some good hits for the final days so that you can keep your opponent off balance. Last weekend would have been a good time to fire a fresh cannon to divert attention from the FBI story.
Lesson 3: When hit with a scandal come clean, take your medicine and get it over with. The e-mail issue arose a year and a half ago, and has had a 1000 lives because voters were fed a 1000 shades of lies.
If Mrs. Clinton loses, history will note that it was not the FBI director, or Anthony Weiner that cost her the election…it was the Nixonian approach to the truth that left Mrs. Clinton trapped in a toxic swamp a week before the election.
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