MULLINGS/Rich Galen – Glass Half Empty. Glass Half Full


All day long, yesterday, I got calls from reporters testing the theory that McCain securing the GOP nomination this past Tuesday was actually the worst thing which could have happened.

Here is an amalgam of those conversations:
Galen: That’s silly. Isn’t securing the nomination a good thing?
Reporter: Yes, I suppose so.

Galen: Then how can good news be bad news?

Reporter: But won’t all the attention will be on Hillary and Obama?

Back to the discussion
Galen: Are you thinking back to Rudy Giuliani’s disappearance from the scene while waiting for the Florida primary?

Reporter: Yes.

Galen: There were 15 candidates involved in the process before Florida. There are three now. One of them is John McCain.

Reporter: Still

Galen: If McCain goes on the road will [insert the name of the reporter’s news organization here] cover him?

Reporter: Sure.

Galen: Well, then McCain gets to make news whenever he wants. Just like – say – the President of the United States.

Reporter: But, how does that compare to the attention Hillary and Obama will be getting?

Galen: Clinton and Obama will be doing, what?

Reporter: Attacking each other, I suppose. Galen: Right, they will be firing grenades and mortars at each other. This isn’t going to be negative campaigning, it’s going to be a negative campaign. Period. How is that good news for Democrats in November? 
Reporter: Ok, but what should McCain do?

Galen: I am not advising McCain, but if I were here are three ideas:

On the negative campaign front, I would make certain the Republican National Committee staff is closely tracking the attacks and counterattacks and keeping careful notes on what works and what doesn’t.

On the positive front, I would have a steady stream of endorsements – political figures, military, statesmen, scientists, you name it. Every 36 hours I would roll out more endorsements.

Third, I would stick McCain back in the US Senate and have him comment on important legislation as it comes on the floor. McCain had no trouble making news when he was not the Republican nominee, but just one of 100 US Senators.

This has the additional advantage of showing McCain’s deep understanding of complex issues, as opposed to Obama’s not even knowing where to go to answer the phone at 3 AM, if you catch my drift.

Reporter: I catch it.

Galen: There is an additional advantage to McCain’s having closed out the field early.

Reporter: What’s that?

Galen: He gets to rest his starters.

Reporter: Huh?

Galen: How tired are you?

Reporter: Exhausted.

Galen: So are the Clinton and Obama senior staffs. You saw that piece this morning in the Washington Post by Baker and Kornblut about how raw the nerves are in Clinton’s campaign? Yeah. Wow.

Galen: Wow, indeed. They are staring down the barrel of at least six more weeks and probably five more MONTHS of that constant pressure. McCain’s folks can throttle back and concentrate on designing, staffing and then implementing the Fall campaign.

Reporter: I hadn’t thought of that.

Galen: That’s why you called me.

It has become an article of faith that pressure from the Clinton campaign (aided and abetted by Saturday Night Live) got the press corps to ask questions of Obama and about Obama in the days leading up to the Ohio/Texas primaries.

Clinton’s comms director, Howard Wolfson (one of the best in the business) is credited with directing the “How come you’re not asking Obama the tough questions?” campaign.

Wolfson, to prove my point about how this is not going to be a kinder-gentler campaign, was quoted at (and elsewhere) yesterday comparing Obama to Ken Starr!

“When Sen. Obama was confronted with questions over whether he was ready to be commander in chief and steward of the economy, he chose not to address those questions, but to attack Sen. Clinton,” Wolfson said. “I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.”

Note to RNC researchers: Nix on the Ken Starr attacks.