Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Campaign Mis-steps

Even in the last presidential campaign, no one paid any real attention to the candidates until the Dean surge at the end of 2003. In today's accelerated campaign, people are already hanging on the candidates' every actions. Look at Biden. Just complimenting Obama was enough to cause an uproar because he was not sufficiently respectful of previous black candidates. In the last few days other candidates have had problems.

There is John Edwards and the bloggers. A couple of experienced bloggers were brought on board without properly checking their writings. It seems that, in addition to being vulgar (a job requirement) they are also anti-Christian, and specifically anti-Catholic. In a series of mis-steps, Edwards appeared to fire them, then he released a statement that he had talked with them and would be keeping them on, then they resigned. The Left is in an uproar with contributors to the Huffington Post insisting that the Catholic League violated campaign law by interfering with an election.

Sidebar - assume that a Republican had hired a blogger who was found to have made anatomical references to Muslims and CAIR objected. Would the Huffington Posters be defending the bloggers or CAIR?

The Edwards campaign is better off without these bloggers. Had they remained it would have given the impression that he agreed, or at least sympathized with, their views. Democrats already have problems with the religious, especially the pro-lifers. Having people who despise the pro-lifers as campaign spokespeople means that he will not have a chance with these voters.

The whole thing could have been avoided if the person who hired the bloggers had reviewed their word with an eye to how it would reflect on the campaign. What actually happened left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

This is fairly mild compared to what Barack Obama did. In one of his first campaign appearances after announcing his candidacy, he had this to say:
We ended up launching a war that should have never been authorized, and should have never been waged, and to which we have now spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted.
He tried to retract this statement almost immediately and in later statements:
I was actually upset with myself when I said that, because I never use that term.
No matter what he says now, that is not the sort of thing that just slips out when you don't mean it. This is his private opinion, something that he has probably said to friends and staffers. He knew that this would be an unpopular view so he meant to keep it to himself.

This statement will probably haunt him. It is on level with Kerry's "Stuck in Iraq" statement. No matter what the candidate says, it sounds so much like his real views that he cannot disown it. Also, like Kerry, he is insulting the troops.

Since this came directly from the candidate and since Obama is getting so much more coverage than Edwards, this is a significant error. It also shows that Obama has not learned to weigh every word before he speaks. This is ironic considering his reaction when Biden made a milder slip of the tongue.

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