Strategy Memo: 4 Things We Need To Hammer Home, To Win

We've got to go on the attack, folks.  We were winning this thing a week ago, remember?  Here's four things that we need to hammer home in every conversation we have with swing voters and republicans, members of the press and in our comments on other blogs.  

The basic idea behind these four points is: attack their strengths...

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Rick Davis Was Right: It's Not About Issues

Last week McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, took some heat for suggesting that the campaign was not about issues, it was about personalities. In the context of the campaign, Davis' statement came off as callous and cynical, and was quickly pounced on by the Dems. But, after watching things play out since then, I think it's time to acknowledge that in part, he's right. It's not that the issues are irrelevant. It's that, played correctly, broad themes and strong personalities can overpower the issues in the minds of voters.

The irony is that the Obama campaign should be the first to recognize the truth in what Davis said. Obama didn't beat Hillary in the primaries because he had a better ten point plan then her. In fact, completely to the contrary, his upset win proved the point that meta themes beat microtargeting, and that people will ignore their preferences on issues (for instance, universal health care), if they are inspired by and trust your leadership.

Unfotunately, the campaign's ads lately just scream "generic Dem politician." There's nothing about them that is unique to Barack Obama. They have done a nice job tying McCain to four more years of Bush, but McCain may have partly wriggled out of that trap with the selection of Sarah Palin.

The campaign needs to take advantage of Obama's strengths as a leader and as a change agent. Fortunately, there's an easy answer for that - just let the man speak!

It's time for Obama to pivot back to his strength and run ads that show him in his element - giving speeches to thousands of people, speeches that appeal to our patriotism, similar in tone to the 2004 convention speech. Most importantly, he needs to do in his ads what he did so effectively in speech after speech during the primary - tie his own campaign to the advances in freedom throughout American history and urge voters to move us forward as a nation. In doing, so, he will make McCain and Palin look like second tier imitators.

These ads should be positive, but they can't look like the "Hands" ad Obama ran during the Olympics. In other words, they can't be focus grouped to death. They need to feature Obama speaking most of the time, and let him drive his points home himself.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the focus on McCain=Bush, or on the economy, was the wrong one. But in the final stretch of the campaign it's time for the campaign to go back to basics and run a strong, uplifting campaign. And if he does that, Obama will win.

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States vs. National

Forget about national polls for a second (even though it is a great concern). My feelings is that Obama will have a hard time winning the electoral college even if he had the lead.

Looking at the states:

FL is almost out of play. McCain was never behind in state polls for FL before the conventions. After the convention bounce, it doesn't seem likely Obama is going to win there.

OH is still possible, but has become a lot harder. Before the conventions, McCain had a slight lead (1-2%). The electorate there is a lot more socially conservative than most people think. The whole "bitter comment" thing hurts Obama in OH as well as PA. These are the people who literally are hurt very badly in the economy and cling to guns, religions, and anti-immigrant sentiments. Like one OH voter said on CNN, Obama just doesn't seem like a "real American" to him. I don't think PA is going to turn red, though.

VA has the best chance as a pick up for Obama. But it is traditionally a red state. McCain and Obama were actually tied before the conventions. I am very interested to see what will happen post-conventions.

Honestly, 60 days is still a long way to go. But if you really look at states by states, Obama has his work cut out for him.

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Palin Pick: Shock and Awww

It took me two days to digest the selection of Palin as VP for the Republican ticket.  Unfortunately, I see so much knee-jerk reaction that I fear we risk our shot at properly positioning the Obama campaign.  At the same time, we may sell short our chances to reach out to the big tent that Obama references as not a red America or a blue America, but the United States of America.

So, I think it is time to step back and reflect not on Sarah Palin, but about what we should be doing and saying.

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Tone Deaf

I just got an email from the Obama campaign titled "Rolling Up Our Sleeves".

It is the PERFECT example of what Hillary supporters are talking about when we say that he is not "reaching out" to us.

Here's the relevant text:

This has been a convention of extraordinary moments. Ted Kennedy passing the torch to a new generation. Michelle Obama moving the crowd to tears. And tonight, Joe Biden will give the biggest speech of his life.

Millions of Americans are watching and counting on us to win this election and deliver real change.

They're not just counting on Barack and Joe -- they are counting on you. Hillary couldn't have said it better: "None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines."

No mention of Hillary's speech when touting the "extraordinary moments" and no mention of Bill Clinton's appearance tonight at all?

Dumb. Tone Deaf. And yes, arrogant and foolheaded strategy.

It was one thing to attack and dismantle the Clintons and their accomplishments during the primary. It was one thing to ignore the two term Clinton Administration's achievements while campaigning against Hillary Clinton. Obama had to do that to win. He capitalized on the "Hillary Hate" and the "Clinton Fatigue" to propel himself forward and (in my opinion) THAT is what has generated so much lingering resentment and anger towards him. Yet he does nothing now to try to soothe those wounds or clear the air?

"Ted Kennedy passing the torch to a new generation." Missing anything there? 40 years maybe?

I am not of the "Kennedy Generation". I am not of the "Obama Generation". I am of the "Clinton Generation". There are millions of Democrats like me. He's not even trying to speak to us or acknowledge how hard we've been working as Democrats and for Democrats LONG before the phrase Obamamania was coined.

Call me a whiner, but would it have killed Obama to add Hillary's speech to the list of extraordinary ones? Or acknowledge that the only living Democrat to have served two terms as President will be speaking tonight? Little gestures of respect could go a LONG way towards unity.

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