Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm not a Ron Paul hater...really

I was teaching a candidate school recently in Minnesota and wandered into some dangerous territory. Our firm is often hired to do political education and one of our bigger clients is American Majority We teach several sessions that focus on Communications, Campaign Plans, Fundraising, Social Media and Grassroots Organizing (all ppts are available to download and steal here SlideShare )

The last session of the day focuses on Grassroots Organizing Online and Offline. One of the themes I present is how most grassroots movements are viral and require a “host”. I then go on to say that Ron Paul was too weak of a “host” to carry his “movement”. Full disclosure – I was a mail vendor for Fred Thompson’s campaign (that is a whole other discussion) and I did not support Ron Paul. Having said that, I was constantly intrigued by his supporters and his “movement”. I work in the business of political campaigns and like to think I am a student of how they work on a logistics and business end. So for the purposes of this post lets skip by issues and just talk nuts and bolts.

First I have to take a dig at my strident Libertarian friends who loved Dr. Paul – learn a lesson from him

1. Run as a Libertarian for Congress and lose
2. Run as a Republican for Congress and win
3. Run as a Republican for President and get to take the stage, be in the debates and air your issues

Pretty safe to say no one is accusing Dr. Paul of “selling out” even though he ran as a Republican. I can already feel the hate that point is going to draw…

Moving on, Dr. Paul raised over $34 million dollars of which over 99% came from individual small donors. This is a supremely impressive feat for a guy who, candidly, has below average public speaking ability, no message discipline, fairly inexperienced campaign organization and barely eked into double digits in most public polling. So his campaign was obviously not as much about the “product” of the candidate. He benefited from a couple powerful motivators;

1. A disgruntled and angry free-market fiscal conservative base
2. A weak field of Republican options for President
3. A core Libertarian group that was already online

$34 million, unfortunately, is still not enough to get serious traction in a modern Presidential Primary. That is compounded by the fact that his campaign spent almost 50% of their cash on “Administrative” expenses. That is just unacceptable. Barely a third of the dollars spent went towards actual voter contact. Ok, now all my grassroots friends can holler and say “of course that is what an evil money grubbing political consultant would say!” But folks let’s get real, modern campaigns are not small mom and pop businesses any more…especially ones for President. They can start that way but at some point you have to bring in experienced folks to run the ship…having said that the grassroots are still vital and important to success, but they have to have experienced leadership.

Looking back at Howard Dean circa 2003…the guy almost became the democratic nominee and was much more viable than Paul. Both had strong grassroots movements but Dean had some adults in charge at HQ. Ultimately, I think both Dean and Paul were not strong enough vessels for their movements. So what happened to many of those early Deaniacs? They became the base of Barack Obama’s underdog campaign in early 2007. So why was Barack successful where Dean was not?

1. Obama is a FAR superior candidate “product” than Howard Dean
2. Obama’s team of very experienced political folks had a whole list of lessons learned from the Dean Campaign
3. The online left-roots had only grown larger and stronger since 2003

In short I would propose that Barack Obama would NEVER have gotten off the ground had it not been for Howard Dean.

So if you were a Ron Paulie in 2007 what should you be preparing for? Look for the well spoken Liberty candidate. Can you imagine if Dr. Paul had the TV appeal or speaking skills of a Mike Pence or Jeff Flake? There will be a Republican candidate running in 2012 (in all seriousness they have probably already started) that will carry many of Dr. Paul’s limited government issues, learned from his mistakes and have a more experienced team around them. Don’t know who that “Candidate X” is yet but if you find them let me know.
Candidate X is looking for your passion, your love of liberty and yes your dollars too. That candidate will finally be worth the absolutely incredible effort that so many Paul supporters poured into the 2008 primary.

Be looking for that candidate because they are probably already looking for you.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Sec/State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a symbolic "reset button" for their countries' relations today, but it was labeled with the Russian word for "overcharge" by mistake (Politico).

Think the domestic agenda is having an impact on US foreign policy? Wait, no, it's Freudian. That's it! SECSTATE is wearing a Freudian slip... Quick, someone call Page Six - this is just the kind of "Fashion Faux Pas" that must be exposed!

Can you say EASY BUTTON?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Forget Traditional Pressers Brose McVey Uses Facebook

We live in the internet age and candidates are using it to their advantage. Heck, they’re using it to formally (?) announce they’re running for congress. Think I’m kidding?

How is this an announcement you ask? Well you may recall that McVey announced that he was considering a run via his website Oddly, it hasn’t been updated to reflect this new information as it gives his traditional welcome message and that he’s formed an exploratory committee.

But there you go. Then again, are you surprised? I called that Brose was running back when his site went live back in January:

My question is, why put up a website if you’re giving Congressman Burton time to decide if he’s going to run again, when he clearly has stated many times over since 2008’s primary he’s ready to run again? The answer is, McVey has already determined he’s going to run regardless of what “decision” Congressman Burton makes.

But, as a “new media guy” I do applaud McVey’s use of the internet to promote his candidacy.

Life in the 5th District….always interesting.

Scratch That, Howey Reports Brizzi NOT Running Against Burton

As word had leaked out that Carl Brizzi had filed papers to raise federal dollars for future campaigns (presumably against Congressman Dan Burton) Brian Howey is reporting that Brizzi is NOT running against Dan Burton.

Via Howey

“I used to work for Dan,” Brizzi told HPI on Wednesday, noting that he was a staff attorney when Burton’s House Oversight Committee investigated Clinton-Gore campaign funds. “I would not consider running against somebody I worked for, so I would not run against Dan.” Brizzi said he had two conversations with Burton earlier this year and at that point, Burton himself was undecided on whether to run for a 15th term. Brizzi said that Burton urged him to set up a committee so that he could raise federal dollars.

Reports keep surfacing, like the one above, that Burton is not sure about running for re-election while I’ve heard the Congressman say he was since he won the ‘08 primary. But in case there is any doubt, you’re hearing it hear first. Dan Burton will be running for re-election in 2010. He’s already raised $60k towards that end.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) is stepping up his fundraising efforts in the face of four possible 2010 primary challengers.

Burton’s office told The Hill that the “is serious about meeting this head on” and has “set an ambitious fundraising agenda.” Burton held two fundraisers at the end of last week and raked in approximately $60,000.

Anyway, so we’re back to four.

And as for Carl Brizzi, all eyes will be on him now for what he decides to do in the future.

And Then There Were Five…er, Still Four

(Woah…not so fast! Looks like Carl Brizzi won’t be running agaisnt Burton after all. Questions still remain whether he’ll be running against for )

Well, it's not official that Marion County won’t have Carl Brizzi running for prosecutor next year. Instead, he’s the fifth Marion/Hamilton county resident to be running in the 5th Congressional District against incumbent Congressman Dan Burton raising Federal dollars towards a future endeavor.

He joins an established group of challengers in Brose McVey, Luke Messer, Mike Murphy and Burton’s 2008 opponent John McGoff. Much will probably be made of the fact that Brizzi used to work for Congressman Burton in the late ’90’s back when Burton chaired the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Much will also be made of the fact that all of the candidates come from the area Burton was most vulnerable; the Marion County/Southern Hamilton County portion of the 5th District.

Given the fundraising prowess of most of these candidates, Indiana’s 5th Congressional GOP 2010 primary surely will be the most expensive in the nation.

Does this give Burton anything to worry about? At this point, I’d say no. And the more people who file, especially in that portion of the district, only improves Burton’s chances of re-election. Why? Because he still has a strong lock on the northern portion of the district and the other five will only further divide the anti-Burton segment of the district.

As a Burton supporter, I say keep ‘em coming!

(See the official FEC filing form for the Citizens for Brizzi Committee)

(H/T - IndyStar Twitter feed via the Matt Tully Twitter feed)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Perspective on "Worst President Ever" Claim

Thomas Fleming has long been one of my favorite writers and historians. He's written eloquently about a number of past presidents, and in WSJ Online, he tackles a subject near and dear to the hearts of many of my leftist friends: Is George W. Bush the worst president ever? Fleming puts things into some perspective by writing:
Is Mr. Bush worse than John Adams? When a shooting war at sea started between the United States and revolutionary France in 1798, Honest John wrote a letter to George Washington, offering to resign so that George could resume the job. How's that for presidential leadership? Meanwhile, Adams had kept Washington's cabinet officers on the job, although he loathed them. He finally fired them in a fit of hysteria, which made them wonder if he had lost his mind.
That was a story I hadn't heard before, but I'll confess to not being a John Adams scholar. Heck, I have yet to read McCullough's book (which makes me feel a little lonely). But, here's an even better story:

Woodrow Wilson? When World War I exploded, Irish-Americans objected to his pro-British tilt. Wilson responded that ethnics like these loudmouthed micks were "pouring poison into the veins of our national life," alienating the largest voting bloc in the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, as a Southern-born pol to his wingtips, he segregated almost all employees of the federal government.

Next, Wilson talked Congress into declaring war on Germany on the assumption that we would not have to send a single soldier to France. Before the war ended, we had 2,000,000 troops overseas, and in three months of fighting lost 144,000 men.

I just love reminding Democrats of their segregationist past...

But this one truly made me laugh:

Elected by seven million votes thanks to the electorate's loathing for Wilson, Warren G. Harding confessed to reporters that he was not up to the job. He told one newsman that he wanted to make the U.S. tariff higher than the Rocky Mountains to help Europe's industries recover from World War I. The appalled reporter realized the president had one of the biggest issues of the era exactly backward.

Harding had a concealed box at the Gayety Burlesque Theater where he spent many afternoons and nights. In the leftover hours he concentrated on poker and trysts with a blonde named Nan Britton -- reputedly in a closet off the Oval Office -- while his appointees looted the federal government.

In reality, "Shrub" is often painted in such a light simply due to the glare of the media spotlight. That, combined with the stunning lack of knowledge later generations have of American History gives credence to such asinine statements.

Don't get me wrong: I have little fondness for George W. Bush, if only because his reckless spending, lack of true leadership and distaste for intellectualism and new ideas have given rise to The Obamessiah. Or, as I like to say "Shrub begat Barry".

But worst ever? Get a clue.