One of my favorite endeavors this year has been to write columns on what I would do if I were in charge of each campaign. Today I will analyze what John McCain can do in the waning days; tomorrow I will focus on Barack Obama. Despite some big poll numbers for Obama, McCain can still win.
1n 1996, Bob Dole had a great final strategy. He essentially campaigned 72 hours nonstop. He barnstormed every state he could, did a one-hour rally, got back on the plane and hit the next state. Now Dole didn’t win, but it was brilliant. Why? Because it showed his strength and endurance in his 70's, which is what John McCain also needs to do. It was exciting, too, with “live” TV coverage at every stop by some of the cable networks and the locals as well.
Speaking of TV, McCain and Palin really need to forget the networks and to concentrate on local TV. More people get their news from local TV than from any other source. To that end, McCain and Palin first need to split up, then follow one another to battleground states. Campaigning together is a waste of resources in a tight race. You can cover more ground by splitting up, and then having some redundancy.
For example, have McCain campaign in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday; and have Palin visit Raleigh on Wednesday. Have McCain in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday, followed by Palin in Tampa on Thursday. Statewide TV networks share footage, and the closer the candidates are, the more coverage they get. By my strategy, you double your coverage. I would add Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico to this list. Each candidate makes two stops a day, and your entire battleground is covered twice!
Again, the focus has to be on local TV interviews first, the networks second. I know that seems illogical, but more people watch their local news stations. That’s where you want to be.
McCain and Palin need to keep saying “We’re the underdogs!” People love underdogs. I was at a Super Bowl party last year, and everyone was cheering for the upstart New York Giants and Quarterback Eli Manning. No one was cheering for the three-time Super Bowl champ New England Patriots. Being an underdog is a great motivator to undecided and wavering voters, too. Be David, up against Goliath! McCain and Palin really need to sell this! Just look what it did for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She was at her best as a fighting, scrapping underdog! She nearly won!
McCain’s biggest asset is his Congressional experience and his life story as a Navy pilot and POW. He has to really stress these things in the coming days. Attacking Obama over Bill Ayers has run its course. There are no “legs” there! McCain needs to say “I’m a tested, experienced leader, who made tough decisions all my life.” Repeat it over and over and over.
Palin, who is way short on experience (as is Obama), needs to sell herself personally. “I’m a working mom, just like you! I get the kids to school, I buy the groceries, I balance the checkbook; and, oh - by the way - I have the state of Alaska to run as well.” Her appeal has to be more personal than professional, with her short resume. Talk to people on their level. It can work for Palin, as it has worked for Obama.
Speaking of the Illinois Senator, we will strategize his final week in this blog tomorrow! We’ve had a HUGE spike in readership the past few days. Keep passing the word to friends about www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.