Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Lipstick on a Pig"--The McCain Campaign is Defining the Fight

The quickest route to a political loss is to let the oppostion define the fight.

Anyone who listened to just 10 seconds of the Obama "lipstick on a pig" sound bite knows he wasn't talking about the Alaska governor.

But what this whole dust-up tells us is that the McCain campaign is defining the debate and the Obama side can't get their message out.

Not that long ago the Obama campaign was complaining about remarks McCain's campaign manager made when he said that this election was going to be more about personalities than issues. Apparently, the McCain people believe they have the best ground on that score.

Well so far the McCain people are succeeding with personalities over issues. Palin has been their biggest win on that battleground.

The press used to refer to President Reagan as the "Teflon president." Bad news just didn't seem to negatively impact his approval ratings and it drove the press nuts. I believe the reason was that so many people simply had a sense of how Reagan felt about things and that he thought like they did. As a result, the policy details were not so important. People could overlook the daily bumps in the road knowing they had confidence in the general direction President Reagan was heading.

A recent poll shows that Palin scores a point higher than Obama, and a lot of points higher than McCain and Biden, over the question of "which candidate understands my problems."

Palin has struck a cord. Lots of Republicans and, more importantly, independents view her as seeing the world as they do and they are comfortable with that--and that has so far been a boon to the Republican ticket. When that happens, just like Reagan, the complex over-your-head details on things like health care reform aren't so important. You just know she'd fix it like you would.

There are still almost two months to go to election day.

Attacking Palin personally--which Obama did not do on the "lipstick" issue--will backfire.

Ironically, Obama was the beneficiary of a personality-driven contest with Mrs. Clinton. Now, he's on the other side of that one.

But he will now have to regain his lost momentum by making this an issue campaign.

If Obama thinks his approach to health care reform, and all of the other issues, is what most voters want, then he better make it clear where he stands versus where Palin, and her running mate, I think his name is McCain, stands in the starkest detail.

For his own sake, Obama better rattle the notion that "Palin thinks like I do" or this is going to be an even more surprising campaign season.
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