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Random Thoughts from the Campaign Trail

Obama News Conference.jpg

(Danville, California)

Wow! What a year! I spent much of the last ten months on the campaign trail. Here are some random thoughts on the latest developments:

The “What Was He Thinking Award” goes to President-elect Barack Obama. The joke about Nancy Reagan and “séances” bombed at his first post-election press conference. He called Mrs. Reagan to apologize, as well he should have. Besides, it was Hillary Clinton who had the “mock” séances. Nancy Reagan was the one who consulted an astrologer about her husband’s schedule. Sen. Obama needs to get his facts straight first, before making insensitive jokes.

The “Media Bias” Award goes to a local radio commentator who made excuses for Obama by suggesting it was a case of “making some comments when he thought the microphones were off.” Baloney! It was right during the news conference when he was “belly up” to the microphones. Our job is to report the news, not to make excuses and cover up for our favorite candidates.

The “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” Award goes to former California Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones. “Robo Calls,” those annoying pre-recorded candidate calls are illegal in California. So, when my phone rang the other day and I heard, “Hi! This is former Secretary of State Bill Jones, urging you to vote Republican on Election Day,” I nearly fell over. Jones ought to know better, since the Secretary of State’s office is the one that runs California elections, including ensuring that campaigns abide by all election laws. Politicians most often lose their jobs in this country when they sidestep the rule of law. “Do as I say, not as I do,” is not a formula for leadership.

I keep seeing emails, Facebook posts and other missives blaming Republicans, religious groups and the like for the loss on Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage Ban in California. The reality is that a significant number of Barack Obama supporters, both Democrats and Independents, voted "Yes" on Prop 8. The numbers bear this out. Obama beat McCain by 24 percentage points; but, at last glance, Prop 8 was winning by just 5 percentage points. If you blame only the McCain voters, there weren’t nearly enough to pass Prop 8. Democrats and the “No on Prop 8” advocates need to do a lot of soul searching on this, instead of blaming the other side. It is quite plausible that 1.6 million Obama supporters voted "Yes" on Prop 8.

Speaking of Prop 8, I wonder how many people skipped voting in California on Tuesday, when it became clear that Obama would win in a landslide. The East Coast voting projections can suppress West Coast voting. By 6 p.m. Pacific Time, Obama supporters had little incentive to wait in line to vote. A study I saw said 70 percent of Obama supporters were against Prop 8. Were those who stayed home the margin of defeat? I would really like to see a national uniform polling time, not so much for this issue, but to mitigate the effect of media projections from other time zones.

My media consulting firm scored its first political victory. Believe it or not, I had never helped manage a campaign before, mostly because - as a working journalist - that would have been unethical. But these days I am a political analyst and consultant. I helped with the media planning and strategy for Stewart Gary, a candidate for the Livermore School Board in California. Gary, who is a retired Fire Chief, was a great candidate to promote. He took first place, defeating two incumbents. www.stugaryforlivermoreschools.com.

Sunday morning I will be on “live” with Brian Copeland on KGO-Radio 810 AM in San Francisco. You can listen nationwide at www.kgoradio.com. You can even phone in your questions at 1-800-808-0810, no matter where you live.

Keep coming back to www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Some Guest Views on the Election

Grant Park Chicago.jpg

(Danville, California)

Well, I am home again after another campaign trip. This latest one was to Los Angeles for coverage of Election Day and the day after. The thing that struck me a lot this year was how our technology has changed the political and news media landscape. The way we communicate with each other has changed forever.

I have periodically posted quotes, comments, opinions, observations and thoughts from folks on my blog, which were delivered by e-mail, IM, Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed, text message and cell phone.

Election Night I was covering the Obama victory rally in Los Angeles, and my sister Tierney was at Grant Park in Chicago with friends. We kept in touch by cell phone, text and email, instantaneously sharing what was going on in each respective city. She offered to be my Chicago correspondent. Anyway, here are some of her thoughts, sent out to friends and family:


I was in Grant Park last night watching history unfold, and I have never felt more a part of America. Afterwards, like thousands of others, I walked up Michigan Ave with people from every walk of life, color, size and shape, age, and economic status back to their daily lives. There was a good energy and enthusiasm coupled with a sense of unity. There wasn't any rowdiness, arrogance, or violence, but rather a sense of peace. I think we all knew we had done the right thing for our country...on so many levels, and we were savoring the moment I know some very tough challenges are ahead, but I feel confident that Obama will surround himself with good leadership to help us solve them. And I believe that we can solve them over time.... Yes, we can!

"As an aside, the City of Chicago couldn't have planned this any better nor looked more fabulous than it did on an amazingly beautiful and historic Fall night. My heart was filled with civic pride:-)


Here’s another from her friend Peggy:

“Morning, everybody! I just have to send a few notes from Grant Park -- it was amazing!

"A friend of mine was having some people over to watch the returns at her place downtown, and since none of us had gotten any closer than the Obama waitlist, we thought we'd probably end up just taking a walk over to the park at some point to be with the crowd. The tickets just came through yesterday afternoon, so we were fired up to actually get into the park!

The night was beautiful, and the crowd was ready to celebrate! Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech was blaring as we walked into the park, just as a street musician was blaring "Hail to the Chief" on his sax! It was tough to see much inside the park (everybody onstage was just a speck -- thank God for jumbo screens!), but it was so great to see the faces in the crowd -- kids on their parents' shoulders, people with tears streaming down their faces -- and, of course, a Nancy's Pizza man working the crowd with half-price pizzas for sale. Free enterprise, right?! God Bless America! :)

"For me, one of the highlights was just walking along Michigan Avenue with my friend Tierney on the way home. They'd completely opened it up to pedestrians as the park emptied out, and it was the most fun crowd ever! No pushing or shoving, just thousands of people walking together, spontaneously cheering a wave of "Yes We Can" every once in a while. We said it was like being in a parade! At one point, we just stopped and hopped up on one of the flower boxes in the middle of the street and looked back at the sea of people heading north on both sides of Michigan Avenue -- just crazy.

"It was surreal to walk past the Art Institute, where a guy had perched up on one of the lions and started screaming "WHO WON THE ELECTION??? TELL ME HIS NAME!" Hilarious! It was just one of those nights that makes you love your city, your country, your family and friends more than ever!

"I guess the bad news is that Tina Fey is out of a job as Sarah Palin -- but that's okay, she can just concentrate on '30 Rock' now. Right?!

"We hope you all enjoyed last night wherever you were and whatever you were doing.



Anyway, the things that struck me were the firsthand accounts of ordinary people walking down the street in Chicago. It’s rarely a perspective we get on TV anymore. There are too many pundits and analysts (including me) on the air dissecting every vote. Yes, that’s needed; but the voices of average folks need a forum. This is why “new media” is so popular, while traditional media is dying from the plague of indifference and irrelevance.

By the way, I’d love to hear some voices from the McCain rally, or some conservative perspectives to share on this blog.

Just write me at Mark@MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Sunday morning I’ll be on KGO Radio AM-810 in California with Brian Copeland, and nationwide at www.kgoradio.com. 9am Pacific Time.

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