One might conclude that political ads and PR is one of a contending campaign’s biggest assets to the public — and the obvious fuel to this fire is money. 

And as we continue to notice the numerous left or right attack ads in what seems like every commercial break we run across, the press can’t help but link this back to their big story, Obama’s 66 million dollars in August. And this is perfectly on the spot — you essentially can’t go anywhere to the left or right (online or on your feet) without being swarmed with donation and fundraising opportunities and events. Recently attending an Obama fundraiser, I was amazed with the amount of excess opportunities to buy and donate to the Obama/Biden camp, especially considering the amount of money it cost to get in the actual venue. 

But when looking at the outcome of all this money steadily flowing into the Democrat’s hands, it begs a comment which has been screaming in my head for the last few days: “Is this what all this money is part of? Negative campaigning?” 

As a PR-focused political commenter, I understand that attack ads are merely defense from the latest opposing attacks, but as Karl Rove pointed out, the ads are really going to far. And although Rove may not be the brightest of politicians, his point is made clear. 

But in my view, the most essential thing here is the fact that the ads are virtually an input-output machine, with the input money, and the output a decline in the polls. 

I always look at a campaign in three stages, the first a reception, the second dinner, and the third a drunken bar fight. In more clarity — the candidates spend the beginning of their campaign introducing themselves, the second sitting down and watching the effects throughout the primaries, and the third picking fights and running negative attack ads. And although this has proven to work in the past, a change in politics is in my view essential to winning the campaign. 

So why, then, it is that as Obama keeps listing the lies of McCain’s attacks, the left slips in the polls? America doesn’t like disputes, they like answers. And so this back and fourth attack — defense media battle thus acts as an eclipse to regular politics, and further lets the conservatives ride on Sarah Palin’s media wave, perhaps right into the White House.

This is also comparable to a basketball game where one team is winning by 5 points. The other team may score, but the leading squad (in this case the McCain camp) will always return with another two points. And although the first team keeps scoring, they will always be down by five points, and in the end, losing the game. 

My point? Although Obama may speak the truth in his attacks, he must sacrifice a good reputation if he wants the White House next Spring. 

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A Long Time Coming

September 7, 2008

While reading a July 9, 2007 Newsweek magazine, I noticed an interesting section that proves to be another reason you can’t worship mainstream media’s opinions — they are not very backed up, sometimes biased, and most likely wrong.

My case in point was a page-wide section detailing who would win the presidency, why and how. At the time, Hillary Clinton was the sure-shot winner, so evidentially she was projected to win office, beating every contender by over 15 points. But the interesting part to me was a description of both Obama and McCain, both not projected to win the nomination at all means (Obama was at the time even below John Edwards). 

A comparison showed Obama winning against McCain by 13 points, much different than the one percent margin claimed today.

Another funny note — NewsWeek ran a long feature article on Mike Bloomberg running for president, predicting he’d steal at least 10% of the votes from whichever party he chose to run in.

The internet is alive with breaking news of John McCain’s running mate choice of Sarah Palin, which greatly surprises myself as well as pleasantly surprised many democratic bloggers. In their opinion, Palin is probably the best choice to pound on in a political way.

First off, Palin is the exact opposite of what McCain’s strengths are. She is a 44 year old Governor with barely any foreign policy experience, prides herself on being a reformer, and her main strengths are really managing. So with this, one might think of her to be a secretary or treasurer rather than a vice president. 

This also shocks me in a huge way. Palin’s rumored chances as running mate were rendered by me (as well as many others) as either a joke or a public stunt. McCain loves to tell Obama he isn’t ready to lead, but what if he was elected and — God forbid — anything happened to him because of his old age? Is Sarah Palin ready to lead?

In my opinion, no. I couldn’t imagine Palin leading, obviously not because she is a woman, but because she truly doesn’t have even close to enough experience. I am too worried that if something happens to an elected McCain, Palin wouldn’t be able to keep the country stable, and you can forget bringing the country back from its economic crisis. There is no doubt that she is an impressive person politically and socially, but I can’t help but be against her leading our country in these times.

So as McCain’s huge pep rally (where he appears with Palin for the first time ever) nears to a start in about 15 minutes, one might need to shake the man to his senses a bit, for his running mate is not only his opposite, but she is certainly not a future vice president, and NOT the commander in chief. 

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Presidential races have had a history of being dirty and under the rug, and political cheap shots were never hard to find. But this year, in an already breakthrough election, candidates have thrown out more ads recently than ever before. Political standoffs between two parties or campaigns have usually resulted (or been the result) of an attack ad, complicating already very political situations by letting the general public have an unusually high say on the outcome. Thus, TV spots have turned into political weapons — with endings both beneficent and disastrous to their authors. 

Most recently, these political ads taken huge strides in the form of attacks back and forth from the two remaining candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. Although Obama has just recently started sending out “attack” ads, mostly as responses to McCain’s harsh accusations. The first real sign of this was McCain’s “Celebrity” ad, which was the result of a non lethal (in the sense of attacks) but heated standoff between the two senators.

The ad, sent out by a semingly fearless McCain squad, compared Obama to the star-struck Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and was responded to in a surprising fashion — by Hilton herself. The response was brilliantly played out to both send a message to McCain, and — as another topic — improve Hilton’s public status. It worked, flooding out McCain’s original ad and setting the stage for Obama’s more political response, which delivered a more serious but at the same time up-beat message. 

This was really the start of McCain’s continuous but mild public downpour, in which his previous political gaffes have come back to haunt him, including his Iraq-Pakistan border nightmare as well as his foreign policy mistake in Jordan, pictured, which occurred during a press confrence.Obama, though, has never capitalized on these public weaknesses. Taking a position many politicians in his would have quickly decided against, the senator will only fight once attacked. This way, not only has he kept a very clean slate, he has had time to asses the attacks aimed at him, quickly differ what he can say, and then release a public spot with many more directions and points to make than McCain. This, however, has never been referred to as “weak.” Obama’s team has carefully picked apart attacks (some of this is public) and assessed where they can attack and how they can cover up their softer political spots.

A great example of this was Obama’s second major attack ad towards McCain, named “Fix the Economy“. The ad was placed a few days after the “celebrity” fiasco, and is applauded by myself as well as many political experts for its seemingly perfect timing.

The spot aired during the dubbed “aftermath” of the war-like celebrity dispute, where the public was waiting for more moves from the two campaigns. Obama immediately recognized the situation and sent out what I like to call his “smoke grenade.” Geared towards a topic not mentioned around that time due to the previous Iraq-centered debates, Obama took footage of McCain claiming the American economy was in good shape and threw it against clips of American’s disagreeing with him intently. The ad was politically and factually sound down to the finest details, even including the states the Americans lived in, which were battleground swing-states for Obama and McCain (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky ect.) that are currently up for grounds in a political perspective. 

I call the ad a “smoke grenade” because it both did tremendous damage and put a cloud of smoke in-between the conservatives and the general public. The points made in the ad sent the McCain party wheeling for a response, and the eerie gap of time made an effective bad aftertaste towards the republicans publicly. What I mean by this is since political attacks were plentiful up to that point for weeks, the world had prepared itself for a McCain attack. But in a sense, it never came. So who can we credit this to? In my opinion, it has really been the work of Obama’s campaign working together, headed by the smart PR decisions of Jim Messina, the Chief of Staff. 

So as McCain keeps pumping out attack ads (here is the newest and the response), Obama will keep bouncing them back in the same way he always does — sifting through the ad and hitting hard on the facts. And that’s why Obama is not only winning in the PR department as well as the television side — he’s dominating.

As a recent media spike (which has consumed most of my blog), Barack Obama is heading into the Democratic National Convention — and the rest of the world is keeping their eyes open — and their noses up. The question have popped up everywhere — what would be Obama’s perfect ending to the “official” primary season? Now that Hillary Clinton, virtually guaranteed 2nd place, has recently pledged to give up her remaining delegates, the experts have made their predictions and suggestions over the web, giving the public different angles to look at. 

But what really struck me was lingering in a news source that I normally stay away from — Fox News. They posted a very interesting view on Obama, not exactly as a political tactic to pounce on, but as a general state of mind — being aggressive. And what really took my attention about this was the fact that it was very simple, true — and genius. Obama — held under mercy by Hillary Clinton (which made him politically weak) — has now been released by her grip, not only relieving himself to his normal political standards, but giving him the chance to go back to who he was when an unknown presidential candidate years ago — fight. 

And in a sense that is really where he is best off right now. Fox argues that the 2004 convention was more or less lost by John Kerry because he gave a very “passive” argument — later letting the Republicans speak undisturbed, without answering the Democrat’s attacks, during their convention. Although I don’t agree that this was the main cause for George Bush ultimately winning the election, I thought it was a very important and well thought out point by Fox.

This also leads me think being more aggressive would be something that Obama could use to his advantage, not only in the convention, but also in the general election. Let’s face it — Obama is an incredible speech writer and speaker, so furthermore it wouldn’t be very hard to incorporate some attack points geared toward the Republicans in his acceptance speech Thursday. He could later (if those points are indeed effective) pound them into the press during general election debates with John McCain. 

So, all in all, this is in fact a very crucial convention which can be overlooked by anyone without a credential dangling from their neck. And if Obama effectively pursues these ideas, he could have a boost toward the elections, which will be a daunting task.

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After glamorously introduced in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, Joe Biden excitedly strolled up to the podium, addressing the thousands of screaming voices directed to him. And at the same time, across the United States, hundreds of thousands of McCain’s loyal supporters banned together, gathering for another swipe at the Democrat’s final campaign. 

Its just another day in the world of politics, where bitter rivalries are settled by a public media death-match, and separate campaigns take whatever they can find and throw it into the fire. And this is precisely what is happening now on the web in both sides of the center, both officially and through amateur sources. JohnMcCain.com recently ran a section with pre-primary debate footage of Biden confirming that Obama was too inexperienced to be the president of the United States. This ad, which is now on a youtube thrill ride, has been both pushed on proudly by conservative bloggers and ripped up by liberal sources. It has been been debated on both sides the by the professionals and used by Obama’s extreme opposition (the ever so questionable McCain-Clinton group) in every possible angle that somehow attacks the senator. 

And with campaign news like this, an explosion of opinions and analyzation all over the world was in a sense expected.

In my opinion, Biden on Obama’s ticket strikes many nerves. Politically, he is the best pick to support the candidate, with his impressive foreign policy insight and credentials, but at the same time he is the perfect person for conservative attack. Even though he is now on team Obama, his long line of gaffes and politically un-correct (whether taken out of context or not) comments will come back to haunt him, whether delivered by the press or by the opposing party.

But then again, that’s just a part of politics, and in the end, it will be America’s decision whether he is the overall best running mate for Obama, not McCain’s.

Of the many political bullets a successful politician can dodge, cameras and press aren’t one of them.

After catching wind of Obama admitting he has made his choice for Vice President, one might fall victim of the far-well too known knack of the media to ride the ‘this just in’ wave, confusing the hailed politician with an entertainment star. It seems like Newsweek and Hello magazine are recently starting to integrate with Obama-like news, which could ultimately make one of his worst fears come true — becoming a celebrity. Many, including the republican nominee John McCain, have accused the senator of soaking up the celebrity life, comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. And as this realization becomes closer and closer to Obama, there is really only one thing to do…deal with it. 

As Obama travels the globe, he will be swarmed by a mix of the media’s camera flashes and smiling fans, and he simply can’t get rid of only one. Both will follow him around like a loyal pet, and showing any frustration to this can and will backfire at him, which will send the right wing press (including McCain) into a full-fledged field day. So accepting this recent stardom may be a hard thing to do, but it will be the best choice for the senator long-term. 

So how exactly can this be carried out without ending in disaster? After arousing enough news sources with his vice president cliffhanger, Obama will have to try to sole this frenzy by delivering an “end — all” speech with his running mate this Saturday. Hopefully for the senator, after this chapter in his campaign finishes, the media can switch their attention to John McCain’s vice president fiasco. I’m sure the public (and the democrats) would like some more wind about Sarah Palin’s bid…