Thursday, November 19, 2009

Team McCain blew it

I originally posted this at Conservatives4Palin. I have since updated it for my home page.

Well, the moment has finally arrived. To those of us that are fans of Governor Sarah Palin, the year in exile has been tumultuous and long.

Governor Sarah Palin has been unleashed!

After watching and listening to numerous interviews over the last few days, the melting of Barbara Walters’ heart, the hysterics of certain McCain staffers and the dedication to conservatism with Rush Limbaugh, it is now clear that Governor Palin will not hide and will not head off into retirement quietly.

Governor Sarah Palin is part of America’s future, not just a stigma of America’s past.

Before we move into the future of this country and the dangers that lie ahead for America as we follow President Obama’s path, it's only fair to address the mistakes in the 2008 that brought us the President currently sitting in office.

I know that many in the McCain campaign are vehemently defending themselves and the mainstream media is all too happy to give them a platform to slam Governor Palin (see MSNBC, et al).

It's time for an honest reality check.

Team McCain blew it and they blew it bad.

Many of us sitting on the bottom rung of Team McCain at the grassroots level could easily look up the ladder and see that we had a big problem. Team McCain had a message problem and it grew as the election wore on.

Amazingly, today’s mainstream media is attempting to defend Team McCain and wondering why Governor Palin went “rogue”. Shouldn’t Governor Palin have just gone along with Team McCain’s messaging? When asked by interviewer Barbara Walters, Governor Palin said yes to Team McCain controlling the messaging and they lost anyway.

The message out of Team McCain was a problem from the top of the campaign all the way down to those of us on the grassroots level. The grassroots could clearly see the problem.

I stood a few feet away from a high level McCain policy adviser on October 31st, 2008 as Team McCain was making its last rounds, and asked a simple question. I asked the adviser to please give me a sixty second statement so I could explain Senator McCain’s health care policy. All I needed was a short simple answer about health care to give to the people that were calling our county GOP headquarters. The adviser managed to drone on for about 10 minutes without ever actually explaining McCain’s health care policy. Disappointed, I finally cut him off.

To this very day, I am willing to bet that not a single McCain adviser could clearly define McCain’s health care policy and make it coherent in a 60 second sound bite.

Of course, this messaging problem started early, long before Governor Palin was on the ticket and continued all the way through the election last year. Steve Schmidt, for all of his defensive babbling right now, had the McCain message heading along the wrong path for a long time.

Still, to this day, Mr. Schmidt cannot admit the real problems with the campaign. By the summer of last year, Senator John McCain was already defined as President George W. Bush. Team Obama got that message out early and often and John McCain could never shake that label.

Then Governor Palin was added to the ticket, and the messaging problem got worse. I believe that Team McCain recognized immediately that there was an energy surrounding Governor Palin. Many folks were inspired back into the political fight. Instead of guiding Governor Palin and allowing her to define herself with their guidance, they shut her down and the media quickly defined her as unqualified. Big mistake.

This was one of many epic failures by Steve Schmidt’s Team McCain. Both candidates on the GOP had now been defined by the mainstream media and Team Obama.

Probably the biggest messaging problem for Team McCain was on the economy. The economy was the problem that was first and foremost on America’s mind when heading to the polls. A clear and concise message was needed. Americans never got a clear and concise message from Team McCain.

Can anyone honestly remember Team McCain’s message on the economy? After the McCain debacle of calling the economy strong, the messaging battle on the economy was lost immediately. What I fail to understand is why Team McCain never recognized that the strongest positive message on the economy from all the candidates was Governor Palin's. Only one of the four candidates could relate to the average economic problems of Americans. Only one of the four candidates actually ran a state that is financially stable. Only one of the four candidates had ever written a budget. Only one of the four candidates had lived without healthcare coverage and has small business experience.

Team Obama’s message on the economy was clear, concise and simple. “95% of Americans will get a tax cut under my plan”.

Amazingly, Team McCain never figured out what a great campaigner Governor Palin actually is. In the last several days alone it has become painfully obvious that the problem was the ineptitude of the elitists running the McCain campaign. Team McCain never recognized the power of the average American and what they expect from their government. Governor Palin is an average American and can relate to our problems.

Americans live in a fast paced world and they like their news in short, precise sound bites. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Governor Palin managed to do on her own, what the entirety of the Team McCain did not last year. Governor Palin was asked about unemployment and the economy by interviewer Barbara Walters and the Governor gave a simple yet powerful answer on what she would do about the economy.

"I would start cutting taxes and allowing our small businesses to keep more of what they are earning, more of what they are producing, more of what they own and earn so that they could start reinvesting in their businesses and expand and hire more people," she told Walters. "Not punishing them by forcing health care reform down their throats; by forcing an energy policy down their throats that ultimately will tax them more and cost them more to stay in business. Those are backassward ways of trying to fix the economy."

In a short, concise 39 second message Governor Palin managed to state what she would do and smack President Obama on healthcare reform and the atrocious cap and trade bill. It's that simple.

It's time for Team McCain to admit they blew it on messaging so we can all move on. For the past year Team McCain has blamed Governor Palin. Governor Palin was not the problem, letting your opponents define your campaign was the problem. Losing control of the message was the ultimate mistake and that happened long before Governor Palin joined the ticket.

Surely Team McCain must know this by now. Americans are clamoring for a conservative option (not a Democrat-lite option) and we need to give it to them. Governor Palin has recognized this. Less than 24 hours after the release of her book, Governor Palin was forming a message that Americans can embrace. It is time to move on to 2010.

Even as bad as things went at the elite level of the McCain campaign, locally and statewide, things could not have been more organized. The state made sure we had everything we needed on the local levels. The volunteers arrived by the hundreds at our local office. Even though I have not seen things run better for the GOP in the state of Wisconsin, we still needed a clear and concise message from the top of the ticket. A great disservice was done to John McCain and Sarah Palin the moment we lost the message war.

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