Saturday, October 30, 2004

Rove to Kerry: This Just In -- Bin Laden Wants Bush to Win


October surprises have been working to our favor in the last week. We had "W" on the run, responding to all kinds of allegations for almost the entire week. The poll numbers tracked to this reality, and it looked like you were going to win.

But the real October surprise was one that I don't think anyone (even the Bush campaign) could have guessed: that Bin Laden himself is campaigning as a fourth party candidate. Bin Laden unveiled another surprise attack on America -- an attack without violence may influence the outcome of this election.

Does Bin Laden really want Bush to win? Who knows, and frankly, who cares. But he will have the same effect that Nader did on Gore in 2000.

Nader has been neutralized as a third party spoiler thanks to the heat of the election, but Bin Laden just gave his stump speech and told Americans directly that neither you nor "W" would do the job of fighting terror as well as he would. His policies, he says, are the only policies that will stop terror attacks.

But, just like Nader ripped votes away from Gore in 2000, Bin Laden will have the exact same effect on your campaign. Why? Simple: People trust W's toughness on terror more than they trust you. This makes sense because they've seen him launch two wars, and they've seen the same man accuse you of being weak on defense (and offense).

John, please listen carefully: Your current campaign strategy of ducking the Bin Laden issue will not work. You need to de-politicize the Bin Laden tape, and at the same time use it as a differentiator, or else you will lose the election by default.

People will see this ducking as a preface for how you'll deal with him as President. You see, people intuitively know that behaviors transcend situations. If your behavior is to duck and cover now, they can only assume this is a preface to your presidency.

In all of your final rally speeches, you need to bring America together as you would as President, but also make a pointed differentiation between you and "W":

"When I am sworn into office, I will be taking an oath: an oath to protect and defend this nation, and to ensure that I will do everything in my power to keep Americans safe.

Every President takes this oath, and every President is bound by this promise. I can promise you that no matter who you vote for this Tuesday, they will be aggressively fighting terrorism.

But I'm running for President because I know I will do a better job at defending America. The difference between me and President Bush is: Bin Laden is still out there scheming because this President is fighting terrorism more broadly by including countries like Iraq. That was his decision, and he's sticking to it.

My administration will focus on the heart of terror first -- Bin Laden and his network of terrorists -- because as a soldier and commander in the armed forces, I know how to find, seek, and destroy the heart of the enemy. As President, I will take Bin Laden and his network out. This President has had three years to remove Bin Laden from power, and he's still out there. Bin Laden is the guy behind 9/11, and he's the guy I'm going after starting Day One.

Yes, we dethroned Saddam under President Bush's leadership, but we will destroy Al Q'aida under mine."

You need to start sounding presidential now. Take a strong stance on this, John. If you don't take a defining stance now, you may never be given the chance.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Tell Them Why You're Running, and This Time, Give Them Your Heart


It's time to shift the focus from attacks to rallying the nation around you as our new leader. In your stump speeches, you need to remain on the positive (of course, with good jabs at "W" intermittently), and get people excited and emotional about your future presidency.

Throughout these appearances, it will do you good to have a single speech that you repeat nearly verbatim at every event. And this line should be about -- ready for this? -- why you're running for President. You know, it's been an awful long time since you've told America why you decided to dedicate two years of your life to run for President. Now it's time to remind them.

For this one, John, you need to look down deep for the real reason you're spending all of this time and energy to become President. I can't do this for you, but here's an idea of what we're looking for:

(keep this very personal, so present this as if you're saying it to your wife -- not to millions of people)

"Do you know why I'm running for President? I'm running because I honestly believe I can do a much better job for the American people. I believe I will keep our country safer. I firmly believe that our troops overseas will be better prepared and better protected when I'm their Commander-in-Chief. I will guide America back to a better economy, with more jobs and lower healthcare costs. I will grow the middle class dramatically during my term. And I am convinced that, as President, I will help restore America's reputation that so many former Presidents have worked so long and so hard to uphold.

You know, I love this country. And I really want to make it a better place for my children, and really, for everybody's children."

Tell them why you're running, and why you're better. But this time, tell them from your heart. Don't make it a stump speech. Make it a love letter. People are really looking for a reason to vote The Abuser out of office. Let's surprise them and give them a heart-felt appeal.

And if it comes off really well, we can turn it into an ad campaign. TV and Radio. From now 'til Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Tell Them Your Story, With a Little Help From The Boss


It's time to break out the big guns and create the required energy to get those all-important new voters, independent voters, and undecided voters to the polls on November 2.

You know how it's going to work: If traditional voters come out in record numbers, Bush wins. If we see a surge in new and independent voters, you win.

Let the Music Tell Your Story

Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen is so committed to the cause that he's actively campaigning with you. We need to tap this precious American Icon even further.

We need to ask him to write a song -- an upbeat, "The Boss"-style optimistic anthem that creates and captures the enthusiasm of a nation ready for change. Ask him to write a mini-anthem along the lines of Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" that will inspire people to get up off their butts to vote in droves on election day.

The Kerry Story: Making The Ad

People are very close to the details right now. And scandals are rocking the Bush administration as we speak. Let's give America one more chance to look at you as they saw you in the debates: a competent, confident, experienced leader. Let's do this with music and images in a TV ad. Think of it as a Kerry recap.

The Boss's song should be the focus of the ad, and should be played while showing voters a video montage of images from your life -- your unique story. The John Kerry Story needs to be the story that Americans connect with their hopes and dreams. Show them images from your career as a soldier, protecting America...images with you as a Senator with former Presidents...images of you and John McCain working together to close the books on missing Vietnam Vets...and inspiring images from your campaign for President. The "slide show" story needs to be as inspiring as the soundtrack. The Boss's lyrics will convey the required emotion, and the images will reinforce your candidacy with this emotion.

End the ad with a female voiceover and large, white text:
"On Tuesday, November 2, You Will Have the Power to Shape America's Future. Please Use Your Power Wisely."

This final tagline is going to be effective because "shaping America's future" means "change." And Change=Kerry. Yes, it's a bit risky to be indirect, but you'll be appealing to the cynical voters who will appreciate your appeal to the American tradition and belief that voting is the cornerstone of our society. And these are the people who we need to vote -- the people who think their vote doesn't matter.

Music is a very powerful carrier of emotion, and Bruce is a very powerful artist and icon. Attaching your unique story to Bruce's music, hope, and optimism will be a powerful message. And ending the ad with an inspiring, yet seemingly non-partisan final statement about voting will allow people to see you as a true uniter. Actions speak louder than words, and an ad of this nature will speak volumes about you, your campaign, your character, and your story. It will make "W" seem petty in comparison.

People tend to vote for the best story -- a story that inspires them and gives them hope. Give them that story, John. It's not too late.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Bush is Not a Phony


As the campaign comes to a close, it's time to close the deal, and lock in the conventional wisdom (CW). As I said earlier, we need to capture the hearts and minds of voters as they head to the booth. "W" is a natural in the heart department, so most of our work should be attacking his advantage hard.

Nothing helps lock in CW like a catchy phrase, an alliteration, a rhyme, or a twist on a famous saying that resonates with national feelings.

In my last tip, we started talking about all the faults of "W" beginning to fit nicely into the catch-all phrase of a "one-trick pony." Let's expand on this, using rhyme, simple phrases, combined with a "this is very obvious" tone:

"President Bush went into Iraq, but failed to decapitate Al Q'aida like he promised.

President Bush went into Iraq, but the stock market stumbled.

President Bush went into Iraq, but created unease, which raised gas prices and reduced salaries.

President Bush went into Iraq, but forgot about everyday Americans and their daily challenges and struggles.

President Bush went into Iraq, but forgot that we had long-standing allies.

President Bush went into Iraq, but forgot the promises he made in 2000.

You know what this tells me?

President Bush isn't a phony, he's a one-trick pony.

America not only needs a President who can focus on terror like only a former soldier can, but a President who can also do the rest of his job, too. Now that things are more complex in the world, now that things aren't going as well as this administration planned, America needs a President who can do more than one thing at a time -- America needs a President who can do it all."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Rove to Kerry: You Must Define the Supreme Court Issue Before They Do


This campaign tip preempts other tips I have in the hopper because this is a classic Rovian opportunity that needs to be addressed now.

The Real Rove will jump on the news of Justice Rehnquist's cancer like, well, cancer. Rove will invade and infect the debate about Supreme Court replacements and transform it into a cultural debate defined by issues in which the Conservatives currently have the popular advantage. In addition, he will try to paint you as a born-again hippy that will adhere to a litmus test for "radical liberal judges like the ones from the Senator's home state of Massachusetts."

The thing is, John, it's not their advantage. It's our advantage, and we need to ensure it's our advantage by defining the issue first, and then preemptively attacking their ability to be trusted to appoint new justices.

You must ask the rhetorical questions that bring all of the trust issues to the forefront:

"Can we really trust an administration that mislead America into war with the responsibility for appointing new Supreme Court justices?

Can we really trust an administration that cannot admit to mistakes with the responsibility for appointing new Supreme Court justices?

Can we really trust an administration that hides behind lawsuits to cover up secret meetings with the energy industry to appoint new Supreme Court justices?

Can we really trust an administration that has leaked information about two CIA operatives -- and are currently under investigation for these petrifying lapses in judgment -- to appoint new Supreme Court justices?

Can we really trust an administration that has had its policies struck down by the current Supreme Court multiple times to be the people responsible for appointing new Supreme Court justices?

This administration made a long-lasting decision to invade and take over Iraq. Now we can all see how good they are at making long-lasting decisions. Do we really want them making any more long-lasting decisions? And this time, on our soil, with our laws?

Americans that are still undecided about who to vote for next week should think long and hard about giving the current administration any more opportunities to make more long-lasting decisions for America. I know they've done their best, but I think they've proven that their best just isn't good enough.

I have dedicated my entire working life to America, from soldier to senator. I want you to know that you can put your trust in me to pick justices from the highest standard to serve our nation with pride, honor, and dignity."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Rove to Kerry: You Have Their Minds, Now Own Their Hearts


The base is ready. They're going to vote for you. Big Time. But 37% of the so-called "undecided" voters are Democrats, while only 11% of them are Republican.

This is your ace in the hole. We need to plant key messages into the hearts of these remaining few so that when they head to the voting booth, their feelings draw them to you instead of "W" (who, by default, has a distinct advantage in the feeling department). In the voting booth, the voters' feeling of the candidates will override any "facts" like percentages, numbers, or quotes.

Just like in my prior tips, we're going to leverage the great messaging power of the Bush campaign and use it to help you.

Let's create 5 simple contrasts that are designed to stick in the minds -- and resonate with the hearts -- of voters as they head to the booth:

War on Terror
George Bush is determined, strong and resolute.

John Kerry is determined, strong, resolute, and has fresh ideas.

George Bush let the economy slide while fighting the war on terror.

John Kerry can do more than one thing at the same time.

George Bush wants an "ownership society" where you own your own healthcare bills.

John Kerry will grow the middle class by ensuring that families will spend less on healthcare next year than this year.

America's Mood
George Bush has unfortunately created a divided, angry political environment.

John Kerry will bring the country back together by reaching across the isle when he creates his cabinet.

Culture of Innovation
George Bush wants to go to Mars as his "grand vision."

John Kerry wants America to be the world leader in new technologies like the "hydrogen economy" (which will create new jobs in America).

On first glance, some of these may seem to be misaligned with our platform. Trust me, they're not. These are feeling points, not talking points. So, they're going to sound different.

To ensure your confidence in this messaging, here's an explanation on the genesis on these feeling messages:

War on Terror: People trust "W" on the War on Terror. Accept this, and simply offer voters more than "W." Any talk about the way he went to war or how you'd do things differently won't translate into feelings. There are plenty of areas to differentiate yourself based on feelings. This is not one of them.

Economy: Deflect the tax cut fight discussion (this is not a feeling concern). Republicans will always win the tax issue in the feelings department by giving away more money we don't have like a friggin' bankrupt lottery system. To make the feelings work for you, just blame him for not having the capacity to focus on the stock market, the loss in jobs, and the corporate scandals. Paint him as a simpleton who can't multitask.

Healthcare: Use W's "ownership society" soundbite to bite him in the butt -- and get people feeling they'll have less anxiety around healthcare when you're in office.

America's Mood: Not everyone feels this divisive culture like you and I do, but people know about it because the News is obsessed with it. This is a Clintonesque "I feel your pain" message. By default, it's about feeling. Mend the country again. Let's not let the terrorists rip America apart any more. Just offer a cabinet post to Powell or McCain. They won't take it, but reaching across is powerful symbolism.

Culture of Innovation: This is an interesting one, because this has not been a campaign topic. Let's show some leadership here, once again proving that "W" is too much of a simpleton to handle the diverse roll of President -- that fighting terror is critical, but America simply needs more than a one-trick pony in the Whitehouse. Again, this is using their strategy to make this a one-issue campaign and turning it against them.

Hmmmm.... what do you want to bet that my next campaign tip hones in further on this "one-trick pony" idea?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rove to Kerry: I'm Going to Win, So Vote for the Winner


Everyone loves a winner, and there is a demographic that will simply vote for the candidate that they perceive will be the winner of the election. You know this; you've won many senate races, and you know how momentum works.

Starting October 26, start seeding your low and mid-level staffers, bloggers, and friendly political analysts with a "conventional wisdom" (CW) that the word on the street is that all of those new voter registration drives, that insiders see a large Kerry victory on November 2.

Use independent sources like that show your electoral lead, insider polling numbers that show promising statistics from key battleground states, as well as polls of demographics like women, college-educated citizens, and corporate executives.

Make sure to back up this seeded CW with facts that support the seeding, and it will grow legs.

This strategy has a two-pronged effect that will ensure that you will win:

1. It will force the Republicans to spend the last week of the race fighting "ridiculous Kerry-created spin." The result? Endless arguments about you winning will dominate the cable news.

2. It will influence the "back the winner" demographic. Granted, this is not a huge demo, but in the battleground, you and I know that every vote is going to count. Plus, if you look at polls during the last week in prior elections, you can see that snowballing occurs as people begin to realize that it's time to make a decision. It'd much better for you to have that "winner" CW during this last-minute decision time.

This is not policy, and this is not strategy. This is simple gamesmanship: Leaking to America that you are going to win will help you win.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Rove to Kerry: A Reputation is a Terrible Thing to Waste


People care a whole lot about their reputations. It is one of the most basic currencies of society: Everyone knows that you are only as good as your reputation in your club, town, and workplace.

Whether you like "W" or not, he is tied to our reputation, and he has objectively hurt our reputation. This is not about permission slips, global tests, or anything like that. It's about reputation. And people instinctively know that reputation is important.

You need to make the case that America's reputation is tied directly to our safety and prosperity, and that you're the only candidate that can fix it:

"It's one thing to defend America at all costs, which I have already pledged that I will do. But all throughout history, the free world has supported us when we engage in wars the right way. Look at the first Iraq war in 1991, and even look at the war in Afghanistan in 2001. Our reputation in the world was not only kept intact, but it was strengthened by a combination of leadership, diplomacy and military action.

Unfortunately, I fear -- as millions of Americans fear -- that this administration's lack of regard for America's reputation has cost us plenty: We already know how much debt we're in as a nation, but do you know how many thousands of American companies export their goods overseas? Think about the next big airline contract... do we want fast-growing foreign airline company buying their new fleet of planes from Airbus -- a European company -- or Boeing, an American company? Do we want billions of consumers around the world boycotting American-made products because of their new anger at America? Of course not. But this is the situation this President has gotten us into, and I plan on fixing this problem for American companies.

Thanks to this administration's reckless approach to diplomacy, CEOs all over our country are concerned about the new global marketplace where their products and services will be tougher to sell because of our eroding reputation.

So as you can see, how we defend ourselves affects not just our national security and our safety, but it also affects our economy.

Unlike the fantasy world that President Bush lives in, the world actually wants to like us and wants to see us lead. They really do. You know it, and I know it. We've lived most of our lives knowing it. This President is so abusive, that he only knows how to lead through abuse. He abused our allies and our relationships with hundreds of countries. Now we're paying the price in higher gas prices, higher food prices, and even worse, more violence and higher death tolls in Iraq.

When you elect me President, I give you my word that my top priority will be to renew America's reputation. America will once again be the shining light that draws people to us. American goods and services will be revered once again, and at the same time, we will have better cooperation in weeding out terror cells all over the world.

You see, with President Bush, you have to make a choice: You're either safe or have a good reputation. That's just how he sees it. With me, you don't have to make that choice: I will keep you safe, and I'll renew our reputation.

Unfortunately, I can't fix our reputation as a single senator. You need to go to the polls on November 2 and select me to be your President so I can get started on renewing America's reputation."

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rove to Kerry: The Broken Record Administration


"W" and Dick have now both said that they would not do one thing differently knowing what they know today.

This is just too good to be true. It's like they're a broken record, which keeps on skipping to the same phrases, no matter what happens in the world around them.

Let's go open season on them:

"President Bush and Dick Cheney have now both proudly proclaimed that they would do nothing different knowing what they know today. This means that they would still rather snub our allies, damage our reputation, and knowingly put our brave soldiers into harm's way... all over again... even though we all now know that Saddam was not the immediate threat that this administration painted him to be.

And on the economy, they keep talking about all the jobs they created, and all of their supposed tax cuts. These are not new jobs -- these are recycled, downgraded jobs that were lost and then renewed at lower salaries. They call this job creation? And these tax cuts? Well, the ultra-rich got most if it, and the rest of America has to spend the extra tax money on higher healthcare costs. So, it's gone before it even gets into your wallet.

Unfortunately, this administration sounds like a broken record.

No matter what's going on at home or in the world, they keep replaying back the same spin, over and over again. No matter that Al Q'aida is still amassing new recruits... no matter that Saddam wasn't actually an immediate threat while other countries were clearly more of a threat... no matter that Afghanistan has become a drug farm... no matter that Americans have less money and less opportunity now than four years ago. None of these real issues that everyone can see and feel seem to matter in their fantasy land of spin.

Well, I believe the American people are strong enough not to be manipulated by their scare tactics. This country will be more safe -- not less safe -- more safe when I'm elected because I will repair our alliances, and these allies will help us destroy Al Q'aida, and I will make sure Iraq becomes a safe place for Iraqis to live and prosper. Only then will Iraq stop being a threat to America.

Americans will be safer and more prosperous under my administration, because not only will I only roll back taxes on the ultra-rich, but middle class will get a greater share of tax relief. Remember, I am the candidate that supports the middle class, and President Bush is the candidate that supports the ultra-rich."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rove to Kerry: To the Moon, or to Energy Independence?


A few days after the press decided that "W" wasn't a visionary President compared to others, he came out of the blue with a plan to visit Mars.

After everyone stopped scratching their heads as to the context of this "grand vision" of his, America really hasn't heard a peep about this initiative, and frankly, they don't seem to care.

And I wonder why? Oh, maybe because we're under attack from terrorists, Osama is still on the loose, and we still rely on terror training countries like Saudi Arabia for our oil. Or maybe it's just because no one really believes he really cares about Mars. It's probably both.

In any case, other than "beating the enemy," Bush doesn't really have much of that "vision thing." But it sounds like you do. You just need to sell it as a vision, and not a policy or plan.

Let's use your energy policy as a vision platform to differentiate you from this administration:

"The world has changed since 9/11, and America has a choice as to the direction we want to take as a nation. On the one hand, we can continue down the path this administration has put us on: wars with the wrong countries, no plans to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, no allies, and...Something about going to Mars by building a Moon Station. I guess this was supposed to be his "grand vision" for America.

Because Americans deserve a choice, let me share with you my vision for America:

- I will beat terror by focusing on terrorist organizations, and applying international pressure to dangerous regimes. This way, our troops are focused on the immediate threat -- terror -- and our allies work with us to ensure that gathering threats do not become dangerous.

- I will put America on the path of energy independence. This means we will not need to rely on other nations for our energy. This is the most important vision for America at this time. If we can create and manage our own power, then we will not need to succumb to OPEC deals and support corrupt regimes any longer. Energy independence is the only way for America to remain safe and secure in the future.

- I will redirect the money that President Bush inked for the Mars mission into making America the global leader of the Hydrogen Economy. America has always prospered by being the innovator in business. First, it was agriculture, then it was the assembly line, then it was finance, and most recently it was the Internet. No matter what the economic engine, America was on the forefront, and America prospered as a result. I will lead America to the forefront of the next growth opportunity for our economy: the Hydrogen Economy. This will create new jobs, create new opportunities for prosperity, and create new leadership in energy creation and distribution. The rest of the world will once again look up to America as a leader in technology innovation, and we will again begin exporting our products overseas... instead of exporting our jobs overseas.

Being President in 2004 is about safety, security, prosperity, innovation and reputation. Americans shouldn't settle for just one of these... when they can have it all.

Americans deserve more. And my administration will deliver."

Rove to Kerry: Show Me the Numbers


In the Vice Presidential debate, Dick Cheney tried to trump John with his apparent newfound empathy for Iraqi lives. When John repeated the "90%" cost sound bite that you so successfully used during your debate, Dick came back with a new context which challenged John's assertions (i.e., American casualties are "only" at 50%).

This was a very Rovian move on their part. If the facts don't help their campaign, they simply change the context and call you a misleader. Brilliant.

Well, it's a good thing you have your own "Karl Rove," because we're going to out-Rove them. You see, Dick has opened up the door for talking about Iraqi deaths, and we need to walk through that door he opened, and exploit the fact that now we're going to debate how many American deaths there are, and how many deaths total there are:

"When talking about the price we've paid for this poorly planned war, Dick Cheney tried to correct my running mate during the debate. While John Edwards claimed, correctly, that we have taken 90% of the coalition cost and casualties, Dick Cheney said that my running mate was 'dead wrong.'

Well, I'm glad Dick Cheney is finally willing to talk about the dead and the death tolls of the war that he and President Bush have dragged America into.

President Bush, if we are so dead wrong with our facts about the cost of American lives in Iraq, please let us know where we are wrong. By our counting -- and this is the official count from your administration -- over one-thousand American soldiers have died, and that does not count the beheadings of American contractors, nor does it count the number of Iraqi casualties. All other countries involved in Iraq have suffered 138 casualties combined.

Now, I'm no accountant, but this looks like 90% to me. I'd really like to know the fuzzy math you're using to try to again mislead America into believing that we have less than one thousand and sixty-four dead soldiers.

I can only imagine how many less casualties we would have had if this administration had only understood what they were getting themselves into. Downplaying dead Americans is just another example of failing the American test -- and the global test -- of leadership."

Yes, we're going to use the 'global test' again as a strong suit. Remember, take a catch phrase and turn it against them.

Keep on reminding America: "W" fails tests, displays a history of abuse, and has a bad habit of misleading America.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Bush Is Used to Failing Tests


After you wiped the floor with "W" in the first debate, it is of absolute no surprise that he came out swinging with oversimplified catch-phrases, which his minions then repeat ad-infinitum.

As you well know, the newest catch-phrase is the "global test" that your supposed doctrine would adhere to before taking any action overseas. This, of course, plays right into his spin that you are too much of an internationalist to be trusted with America's security.

Here's your strategy: Do not deny it, qualify it, or describe it. John, you need to think like an Aikido Master: Embrace the charge, and re-direct the momentum of the charge back at him.

As popular as W's pithy catch phrases are, you can leverage their popularity by turning them right back against him:

"President Bush has said that in my administration, the United States would have to pass "a global test" before we could defend ourselves. You know, I'm not really surprised that he's against a global test... [jokingly] some say he was never very good at tests.

But in all seriousness, of course he's against a global test. After all, he has already failed the global test of the war with Iraq. How has he failed, you ask? Well, you already know the answer: He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace, and he snubbed many long-standing allies in the process.

President Bush has failed the global test, and America is now paying the price. He failed the test because he didn't study. He failed the test because he thought he already knew the answers. He failed the test because he fails to understand that America is a leader in the world -- not alone in the world. He failed the test because he fails to understand that nowadays, there's more to winning a war than showing our military might in battle and then simply handing back sovereignty. Going to war in today's world requires more planning, demanding better intelligence, and more understanding of what makes the world 'tick.'

So, yes, there is a global test. He just doesn't like any test that he can't pass."

Just like in my previous tip, we're tying in some negative historical impressions of "W" and weaving them into the current debate. Everyone figures that he didn't do too well in school. So, we're going to take that assumption and tattoo it on him, because it will stick.

This is just one example of Aikido Campaigning... turning W's campaign energy into your campaign advantage.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Rove to Kerry: Would you Like Some Pepper on your Debate?


Nice job on the debates. You make me proud. The "other Karl" must be rolling in his gravitas right now.

But there's much work ahead. You need to take advantage of an interested press and start leveraging the "press points" that have the media so abuzz. You need to take advantage of what made you win, and what made "W" lose. I can see you're already doing this, but what you might not know is that you're not doing it well enough.

Remember: you're still the challenger, John. You need to continue punching even when it looks like your opponent took a serious hit. I know in Massachusetts you give your opponent time to get back up and gather himself for the next round. Very nice sentiment, but not this time.

Think of it this way: the debate did not end at 10:30 on Thursday. Actually, the real debate just started, with the first hour and 1/2 of the debate being televised on Thursday. For the first time during this race, the press is interested in the debate of ideas, and every time you speak in public from now until Nov 2, you are in a one-on-one debate with "W." Remember this, and repeat it to yourself every morning, afternoon, and evening for the next 30 days.

Now for the fun part: Whenever you say something about Iraq being a diversion, pepper the statements with catchy phrases that get back to the popular moments of the debate:

"...and as I'm saying this, I can see my opponent's eyes rolling right now."


"...even though President Bush would rather sneer at the problem rather than fix it."


"...and after the looks I got in the debate, now I know how our allies must feel... what with being constantly sneered at every time I say something that contradicts his little fantasy world of spin."

and every time you bring up Osama Bin Laden...

"...and it's actually very comforting to know now that President Bush actually does know who attacked us on September 11th. I was getting worried there for a bit. But I'm glad he could figure that out for himself. I just wish he accepted the truth before he plunged us into a deadly, costly, war that has absolutely nothing to do with bringing Bin Laden to justice."

And, last but definitely not least, use some of W's oft-repeated phrases against him:

"President Bush apparently needed to share with us what hard work being President is. I don't know about you, but I'm a little discouraged that he's complaining about how much work it takes to be President of the United States. I promise to you -- Americans in every state, no matter what your politics -- that I am ready to work as hard as humanly possible for America, every single day of my Presidency. And you will never, ever hear me complain how hard I'm working for you."

You get the point, and to a large extent, you're already doing this. But you need to do it harder, faster, and with even more bite. Use the current - yet fleeting - press interest to your advantage, John. Leverage the nation's interest in W's flubs. Leverage this interest in your new "legitimacy" as a competitive challenger for President.

And remember that for the next month, you are not in a race, you are locked in a debate full-time.