Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Remove Yourself From The Race


We all know that W's approval ratings are at about 50%, and that a vast majority of the Americans have polled that they want a 'significant change' in direction if Bush is re-elected.

There are a ton of Republicans and Independents who aren't thrilled with Bush's fiscal policy, his foreign policy, or even his faith-based approached to legislation. This means there is a pent-up demand for change. However, many of these voters can't easily get themselves to vote for a Democrat, nevertheless a Democrat from Massachusetts.

There's an opportunity here for you here, and it means making your campaign larger than you.

It is time to remove yourself from the race.

No, not literally, of course, but figuratively. Start spraying these slogans everywhere you go:

A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for a Change in Direction
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for a Real War on Terror
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for Honesty in the Oval Office
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for Integrity in the Cabinet
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for Competency in the Pentagon
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for Renewed Trust in Government
A vote for Kerry/Edwards is a vote for America

These are slogans, so you won't want to justify, defend, exemplify, or illuminate on these. In fact, don't. (Sing with me, "keep it simple, very simple, keep a simple mel-o-dy")

Take yourself out of the race, John, and make yourself into the maestro of new leadership, ranging from the White House to the Congress. Orchestrate the transfer of power from the radicals to the respectables. Make yourself as big as the movement that wants Bush out.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Go for the Kill (While Fixing Your Flip Flops)


The second major event that has branded you as a flip-flopper (to review the first event, click here) was when you said that knowing what you know today, you'd still vote for the authority to go to war.

I know, I know, this was supposed to be about you not flip-flopping. It doesn't matter. The fact is, they turned it against you.

You need to not only turn this around in your favor, but you need to go for the kill within the speech defending your statement. Remember: Americans are more accepting of an attack if it's in the context of an explanation. Let's kill two birds with one stone here: Let's clarify your position on the vote for authorization, and at the same time, introduce a devastating character attack on "W:"

"Let's stop this flip-flop spin right here, right now: I voted for the authorization to go to war because I believe that the President of the United States needs to have the authority to do what needs to be done to protect America. I would vote for authorization again today because I will want this same authorization when I'm President."

[OK. Flip-flop fixed. Now go in with the kill. The "kill" in this case is an overarching indictment on W's character. And, as you'll see, we're weaving in some unseemly aspects of his personal history to make the point that much stronger...]

"However, it seems that this President has a history of abuse: He abused my authorization to go to war by going too quickly, too recklessly, too unprepared, too alone, too resented by the world, and too cock-sure that he could never make a mistake. He abused the relationships with our allies, and he abused the trust that America gave him after 9/11.

I am running for President because this George Bush abused my authorization and lost the people's trust in his ability to lead us to peace and prosperity. President Bush, you had every opportunity to keep America's trust after 9/11, but if you abuse it, you lose it."

Yes, we're going for the jugular here: we're using the word "abuse" intentionally because it not-so-subtly ties into W's history of alcohol abuse. It's the same thing he's doing to you with the flip-flopping label. If everything you do is flip-flopping, then everything he does is abusive. Seems only fair to me. Hey, this is Kerry's Karl Rove, not Kerry's Dick Gephardt.

Will it be effective? Absolutely. If people start seeing "W" as a President with a history of abuse and see all of his foreign policy maneuvers through the lens of a long-term pattern of abuse (alcohol...power... it's all part of the pattern), then everything he does is seen through this new, very unbefitting-a-President filter.

This kind of messaging could change the entire dynamic of the race, John. Consider this very carefully.

And remember, all of this attacking of W's character is built into a defending of your character. So, none of this will be seen as an outright attack. It will be seen as a man who is defending his honor and integrity, and Americans like that in a leader. Especially these days.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Fixing Your Flip Flops


The good news: Most of the things you say in public come off well, and people respect you when they hear you speak.

The bad news: Two major events have been dogging your integrity since the summer (it seems since the dawn of time). In this installment, we'll cover the first event, where you explained how you voted for the $87 billion before you voted against it.

This event was exploited by "W" in countless attack ads, and is the primary reason why the tag "flip flopper" has stuck to your public persona.

You need to completely assassinate this event. That's right, John, kill it. It needs to die so that it can never resurface. Kill it with a targeted announcement (and actually think about shooting it when you speak, so your inner contempt for this President can oh-so-subtly be detected by America).

Tell America the truth about the $87 billion vote:

"George Bush would have you believe that I, a former U.S. soldier, a veteran, would actually not provide our troops with the supplies they need to succeed. He has some nerve, and this represents just another example of his almost pathological need to mislead America. Let me tell you straight, with no spin: I voted for the responsible version of the bill to support our troops -- the responsible version that rolled back a few tax cuts so we could actually pay for this war in a responsible way. I did not vote for the version of the bill -- the version that President Bush signed -- that has thrown this country into mind-boggling debt. This is so important, I'm going to repeat it: I voted to spend $87 billion to arm our troops responsibly, simple as that. This is the end of President Bush's fantasy-land spin on the $87 billion."

Here, we're creating nice sound bites for continual replays in the media, and we're tying in the fantasy-land spin message that you've already invested in. You're also playing up that you'll be the "responsible" President instead of the reckless one that got us into immeasurable debt and a debacle abroad. And, of course, you're seamlessly weaving in the fact that you yourself were a brave soldier that would naturally have our soldiers' best interest close to your heart.

John, get me back on your schedule soon for the second installment of "Fixing your Flip Flops," where we will resolve the second major event that has branded you a flip flopper. We'll also introduce a go-for-the-juggler branding of "W" that is just so "Karl Rove," it may single-handedly win you the election.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Making the Smirk Work


"W" has been very effective in getting his crowds energized by poking fun at your alleged changes in position on Iraq. We all watched his trademark smirk as he poked fun at your latest statements about the Iraq disaster.

There are two things you need to remember about this:

1. They're watching your every word and responding with jokes because you're setting the agenda now. Nice job. That smirk? It means he's insecure. It's also a weakness that you can exploit.

2. You need to firmly attach your positions to those of the majority of Americans who are also very worried about the war. When you criticize the war, speak for yourself and all concerned Americans. Put Americans on your side, and when he smirks and pokes fun at your statement, he'll be smirking and poking fun at all concerned Americans.

Instead of saying "I believe this President has put this country on dangerous footing," try bringing Americans into your statement:

"Millions of concerned Americans like me believe that George Bush has put this country on dangerous footing."

Instead of saying "I gave the President authority to go to war, but I do not approve with how he went to war," bring Americans to your side:

"I think most Americans agree with me: We think the President should have the authority to go to war, but we also think that the President should take full responsibility for his successes and failures when he uses that authority."

Instead of "I believe your Iraq policy has been an utter failure," try bringing Americans into your critique:

"I represent Americans who believe you have failed in Iraq. In fact, your own intelligence department believes Iraq is failing. If Iraq is central to the war on terror, then the war on terror is also failing!"

Instead of saying "I have a plan to get America back on track in Iraq," speak for the Americans that you are looking to lead:

"America has spoken, and I have listened: Vote for Kerry/Edwards, because we will work tirelessly to get America back on track in Iraq."

When you attach yourself to Americans in your attacks, "W" will either lose the ability to poke fun at your criticisms, or he will insult millions of Americans by downplaying their concerns.

Make the smirk work...for you.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Get Wise with your Why's


As you've effectively made the case, W lives in a bubble -- a fantasy world that Maureen Dowd calls "Bush World." He is selling this idyllic creation to America quite effectively because he believes it.

Your job is to pop his bubble so that he looks ridiculous when he tries to paint a happy face on the mess he's gotten America into.

How do you pop a bubble? With a pin.

Your pin has to have "Why?" tattooed all over it. You need to ask him directly in your stump speeches, and you need to ask him directly during the debates:

"Why did your economic plan actually reduce the number of jobs in America?"

"Why did your tax plan actually increase the tax burden on the middle class?"

"Why did you celebrate the end of major operations in Iraq last year?"

"Why did you roll back the clean air legislation that President Clinton enacted?"

"Why did you accuse me of sending our great country into debt when you've already done that yourself?"

"Why didn't you give the weapons inspectors the time they needed to prove what was true: that Saddam had no WMDs, and that he was not the dire threat you portrayed him to be?"

"Why do you continue to think that having less allies in the world makes America safer?"

"Why do you continue to accuse me of flip flopping when you can't make up your mind on compassion or conservatism?"

Pop his bubble, John. And do it while everyone's watching. When his bubble bursts, the country will see the insecure boy that has been hiding behind the macho persona.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Rove to Kerry: You've been Framed


It's not your fault, so don't get defensive. But the fact is that you're playing defense. The Republicans have set almost every political agenda since Clinton left, and they're forcing you to respond to their agenda. The end result is you are forced into trying to come up with better alternatives to their agenda.

The problem is, people intuitively see this dynamic and feel that Bush is leading, and therefore see you just taking pot shots at the Administration.

W is perceived to be framing every issue (especially the war on terror), and this is what people associate with leadership.

Having plans to do things better is not what Americans want right now, because we're not in peaceful times. Plans are what people want when we are at peace. Actions are what people look for when times are tough.

W has taken ownership of the fact that times are tough. You need to take this issue back, pronto. Your domestic agenda will win with America if they hear it. But they won't hear it unless you get over the war-on-terror hump, and you need to do it with proposed actions, not plans.

Some sound bites to help you get over the war-on-terror hump:

"I will re-focus the War on Terror back to actual terror organizations, because America will be safer when Al Q'aida and other terror networks are destroyed."

"I will focus on terror like a laser beam. I will not be distracted by ghosts that haunt people stuck in fighting wars 10, 20, or 30 years ago."

"I will create the largest counter-terrorism unit in America's history. And I will do it without waiting for a Commission to recommend it."

"I will resolve the North Korean crisis that this administration has let fester. I will never allow unstable regimes to build nuclear weapons while standing by, hoping that they will not use them."

"I will work with the Arab Leaders to dismantle Iran's nuclear program. Again, as President, I will not sit back and watch these programs be built. A nuclear Iran is dangerous to the region, and for that reason alone, we will get cooperation from Iran's neighbors."

"As President, I will use America's weight and power to ensure the world is safer for America and our allies. For this reason, we will make more allies instead of less allies. We will have more helping hands in the world, instead of less helping hands in the world. The America I want to lead will deliver us to a brighter, safer, more prosperous future."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Who's Better on Terror?


The polls clearly show that W is way ahead in people's belief that he will keep America safer. They are responding to his aggressive swagger and his "no permission slip" rhetoric.

Let's face it: America will not hand over the keys to a new President "mid-war" unless they believe you can take over without missing a beat.

Your job is not to convince the people that you have the swagger of W. Rather, your job is to convince people that you really understand the dangers of a post 9/11 world, and that your plan is not to shy away from this immense responsibility.

How to do this:

1. Tell Americans about the differences between how you'd lead the war on terror vs. how Bush/Cheney lead the war on terror.

2. Get all the retired Generals that support you on the talk show circuit to demonstrate the superiority of your strategy.

3. Get angry every time Bush/Cheney accuse you of being weak on terror:

"How dare they accuse me of being weak on terror when I am the only man in this race to go to battle for this country!"

"They accuse me of having a 'pre 9/11' foreign policy outlook. Apparently, they don't know how to read, because my plan for the war on terror is clearly outlined on my website and on the bookshelf in their local bookstore."

"My opponent seems to think that invading Iraq before capturing Bin Ladin was a strong, bold decision in the war on terror. Too bad most Americans believe it was the wrong decision."

"They accuse me of being weak on terror. Let me remind you that President Clinton successfully stopped the first major terror attack on American soil on New Year's of 2000. Let me also remind you that the Bush Administration ignored warnings of a 9/11 attack. Let me be very clear: I will never ignore any terror warnings like the Bush Administration did in 2001. I will never treat any threat lightly, and I will never invade countries that do not pose a real threat to this nation."

Beat the drum, John. W is failing on the war on terror, and it's your responsibility to show Americans the truth. It's going to be easy, because they already kind of know it. You just have to convince them that their doubts are well-founded.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Create 5 Biting One-Liners


Pick the top 5 things you think W has done wrong in the last 4 years. Write out your top 10, and then whittle it down to the 5 most damning.

Now, work with your messaging team to develop 5 one-liners that capture the essence of your top 5 gripes. The one-liners should be both deadly serious, but most should have either alliteration, a rhyme, an implicit meaning, or borrow from a phrase that is often used to disparage someone.

For instance, if one of your top 5 is that W misused your vote to authorize the use of force, then a suitable one-liner might be:

"There he goes again: he says one thing, and does another."

Or, if one of your top 5 is that W hasn't accepted any accountability for the Iraqi prison scandals, the lack of WMDs, the rise of unemployment, the stifling deficit, the lack of tracking down Bin Ladin, or the CIA operative leak:

"If Heinz had a different variety for every time George Bush passed the buck... oh, wait, they do!"

Or, if one of your top 5 is that W/Cheney are in the pocket of corporate special interests:

"The only thing special about the Bush Administration are the special interests that are now running your country."

Develop the top 5, memorize them, and make sure to use them in every speech. By the time the debates roll around, you will want to use them again. By that time, they'll be well-known and possess more power than normal statements.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Communicate Feelings Instead of Facts


There are just too many facts. No regular American has the time or inclination to memorize all of the facts for all of the issues. If facts were golden, then W wouldn't be beating you in the polls.

When speaking in public, go for the gut. Try to figure out how you feel about an issue, and share it. For instance, instead of saying:

"I voted for authorization to go to war."
...try speaking from your gut:

"Looking back, I made a mistake by trusting this man with my vote. I thought he was honorable and would keep his word. He broke his promise. In my book, he is no longer a man of his word."
Again, instead of:

"I have a plan to get 3 million Americans back to work, with better paying jobs!"
... try speaking from your gut:

"John and I know Americans want to work and contribute. And I will commit the Kerry administration to ensuring that every American who wants to work will have a job -- jobs they want, and jobs they deserve!"
Instead of:

"3 million Americans have lost their health care coverage in the last 4 years."

... try speaking from your gut:
"Seems to me that George Bush doesn't care about your healthcare. In fact, he seems to care more about Gay Marriage than your healthcare. Think about it: did he try to pass a constitutional ammendment to ensure you have healthcare?"

See the pattern? It's all about you. Key phrases that tell Americans more about you as you speak:

"I made"
"Seems to me"
"I know"
"In my book"

Once Americans learn more about you, they'll trust you. You're the stranger in this match up, and it's on you to tell people what you feel.

They'll trust you if you share your feelings with them. Once they trust you, then you can be their President.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Welcome to Kerry's Karl Rove

George W. Bush has a Karl Rove, and John Kerry does not.

This is unfair to the American people, who will see a professionally marketed Bush campaign compared to an unrefined Kerry campaign. This is not good for American voters, who might end up voting for the best campaign marketing strategy instead of reality.

Chris Matthews and others have recently asked 'Who's Kerry's Karl Rove?'

Chris, welcome to Kerry's Karl Rove.

Here, we will provide Karl Rovian advice to Kerry and his campaign, and anyone else willing to listen. The American people are best served when both candidates are on equal political footing. We aim to provide this equality.

We invite the Kerry campaign to exploit the insights on this site to bring their candidate up to the required marketing, messaging, and strategic footing with the Rove-managed George W. Bush campaign.

The editors that comprise Kerry's Karl Rove are two non-Democrats (one Independent, one Republican) from the Western suburbs of Philadelphia, PA (the battleground of battlegrounds), who believe that it's quite important for the future of America that "W" and his cadre of neo-conservatives to lose this election.

Let's get started.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

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