Don’t self-impose your death penalty.

Don’t self-impose your death penalty.

Never set a bar in public you may fail to meet. It will be fatal if you fail.

Yesterday I received a video message from Michele Bachmann’s campaign manager. “Iowa is a must win state,” he said, “She has to win Iowa and move on from there.”

Maybe true. Maybe not. No one knows what events may transpire during the next few months that might allow Bachmann to run a close second in Iowa but still remain a viable candidate.

But what is also true is this. Now she HAS to win. And if she doesn’t? Her campaign manager has already decreed in public that the Congresswoman’s presidential aspirations will come to an end.

It is never wise to publically set a bar to the press or to the public that you may not be able to meet, for if you fail to meet your own bar, the chattering class and the press will impose upon you your own self-imposed death sentence, even if you don’t deserve to die.

Think you will raise $3 million this quarter? Good. But don’t decree that if you come up short your campaign will be over, because if you do, in the eyes of the press a $2.8 million quarter is the end of your campaign.

Think you’ll win the next straw poll? Good. But don’t announce that if you come up short your campaign will come to an end, because if you do, in the eyes of the press a one vote loss is the end of your campaign.

Setting the bar too high is a common mistake that candidates for public office make, even political veterans.

I vividly recall Senator Phil Gramm’s prediction in 1996 that he would win all of Louisiana’s delegates in the Presidential caucuses. At the time everyone thought he would. But Pat Buchanan seized upon Gramm’s miscalculation and mounted a very aggressive campaign, believing (correctly) that if he could capture a few of the delegates, he’d give Gramm a black eye and establish momentum as he headed into the Iowa caucuses.

Buchanan won 13 of Louisiana’s delegates, bettering Gramm’s eight.

Gramm might have survived the loss had he not imposed upon his campaign a bar that he failed to meet. But having set the high bar in public and then failing to meet it, Gramm was forced to absorb a fatal head wound courtesy of a gun he fired with his own hand. Six days after Louisiana, Gramm was buried in the Iowa caucuses and his Presidential aspirations came to an inglorious end.

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