Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is the GOP going wrong?

Leaders in the Republican Party are expressing concerns about the prospects of a McCain-Palin victory 23 days from now. Some, including Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) and former Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI) even show reluctance towards campaigning for their side of the Presidential ticket.

So where is the GOP going wrong this year? The simple answer is "everywhere".

While much of Sen. Obama's success over Sen. McCain has been attributed to tough economic times, one cannot ignore the simple fact that the McCain team is failing to run as smart and strong of a campaign that Karl Rove used to conduct for President Bush and his GOP Congressional allies.

One key reason is a lack of cohesive message. As Saul Anuzis, the Chair of the Michigan GOP noted, "You're starting to feel real frustration because we are running out of time. Our message, the campaign's message, isn't connecting."

The most glaring problem is a lack of consistency with the message of the McCain campaign. Daily Show host Jon Stewart humorously pointed it out this week when Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin complained about government being the problem instead of the solution, and later demanding more government oversight.

Consistency has not been the only problem. In many cases, McCain was vague on how to handle the financial crisis. When his solution has been clear, he has faced avalanches of criticism. For example, when McCain introduced his plan to buy up bad mortgage-backed securities at tax-payer expense at the recent Town Hall Debate, his conservative base was infuriated.

Beyond the problem with message, however, is a frequent lapse in sound judgment within the McCain-Palin campaign. Perhaps the best example in recent days was the decision to have Palin drop the puck at a Philadelphia Flyers game this weekend.

The fans boo her. It should be no surprise, as Philadelphia fans have also booed Beyonce and thrown snowballs at Santa Claus. Yet the schedulers for Gov. Palin still thought this was a good idea. The stadium actually had to turn the music up to drown out the booing. Below is another shot.

Karl Rove never would have let this happen. But the campaign advisors this time around do not seem to have his wits. The failures of this year's Republican ticket really do demonstrate the difference a smart and strong campaign makes for an election.

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