McCain Campaign Reboot

>> Monday, October 13, 2008

As the day of reckoning comes for the republican party things seem to be getting tense. There are several diaries on the infighting of the republican party that detail how anyone with sense is fleeing that sinking ship. One of the most recent reasons given is that the tone of the mccain campaign has gotten so vitriolic so hateful that no one can, in good conscience, be associated with it. This has led in turn to speculation that mccain may try a reboot ala batman begins.

The issue is discussed over at fivethirtyeight and revolves around the Kristol column from this morning.

What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time.

And let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit. The two of them are attractive and competent politicians. They’re happy warriors and good campaigners. Set them free.

Provide total media accessibility on their campaign planes and buses. Kick most of the aides off and send them out to swing states to work for the state coordinators on getting voters to the polls. Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.

So what Kristol thinks is that McCain needs to do three things, (1) pledging to run a positive campaign, (2) firing Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis, (3) apologizing for his campaign's tone and tactics. Will these things win it for mccain? well its hard to see how he could be doing worse. I think these things are worth doing regardless of whether mccain wants to win or not. Sadly for Mr. Kristol, there is no way that these things can save mccain.

Krisol's mistake here is not that the underlying thoughts are bad, its that they dont reflect reality. He is arguing for a complete and total scrapping of the campaign with under a month to go. He is advocating that mccain perform this mythic and incredible feat of returning to the ideal maverick. He is asking that mccain match the myth constructed about him in his best days. Does he not remember what happened when McCain was out there talking unscripted? The campaign had to walk back everything he said. He gave a speech now infamous for the horrible stagecraft. Kristol is asking mccain to do things he simply cant do.

As for cutting the staff McCain needs people to run the gotv and day to day operations of the campaign. Minimal staff is not that small. You cannot win on national level news alone. Kristol is fantasizing in the way only a true conservative can. He has a picture of one man taking on the world. One individual can accomplish anything if he just goes about it the right way. Kristol is totally romanticizing the process of campaigning. He wants the "set them free" idea, the cowboy way that failed in the markets applied to campaigning.

My favorite part of this was the total media access. The press conferences at every stop. Not just for McCain but for Palin. Palin!! This is a lady who could not handle followups about what paper she reads and Kristol expects her to handle full press conferences? Steve Schmidt may be a control freak but he knows that if he could trust the candidates to handle the press and stay on message he would let them do it. They taking a beating on this stuff because the alternative is revealing the emperor has no clothes. Not to mention the fact that the McCain would need to talk about something at the press conferences. Kristol thinks mccain should highlight a several things,

-We’re in uncharted waters, no one is certain what to do, and no one knows what the situation will be on Jan. 20, 2009.

-we could use someone as president who’s shown in his career the kind of sound judgment and strong leadership we’ll need to make it through the crisis.

-He can explain that our enemies won’t take a vacation because the markets are down, and that it’s not unimportant that he’s ready to be commander in chief.

-federal judges

-He can suggest that surely we’d prefer a president who would check that Congress where necessary and work with it where possible,

This is not nearly enough to overcome Obama's lead. Kristols picture is of a mccain deeply apologetic for past misdeeds asking us to ignore them and focus on his new case. He advocates no real plan for the economy just emotional support -- because apparently no one knows what to do? Independents dont care about judges only the bases of both parties do so that seems like a miss. Divided government is such a weak argument i cant imagine it swaying many people. Of course old faithful, Terrorists! That is what McCain and palin is supposed to go barnstorming with. color me unimpressed.

Obama has all of these bases covered. Kristol assumes in his argument that McCain is forgiven by the media, actually a real possibility, and that this complete new direction is seen as something other than a complete gimmick itself. Remember he already suspended his campaign once, twice might be a little much especially since he now has fired his logistical people and advanced planning. All the while he has to deal with Obama pounding him on all of the media outlets where mccain has no people to represent him.

All of this talk of a reboot seems like the desperate grasping of people who can see the end coming. To see this happening requires us to believe mccain can do things he has previously shown no desire or ability to do. It requires a belief that if conservatism is presented correctly it wont be rejected despite all the evidence to the contrary. I am not confident that this does happen and even less confident that it would work if it did.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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