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?