Wednesday, May 7, 2008

GOP Candidates: Seizing Hillary Supporters

Media, candidates, and others: Please feel free to post, reprint, forward, or discuss this piece. Please make mention of the fact that this article originally appeared on: If you have a blog or web site, please establish a link. Thanks. "We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately." (B. Franklin) I receive no financial support or direction from any candidate.

Tomorrow I'm going to write about the following piece from GOP Leaders Warn of Election — Shellshocked House Republicans got warnings from leaders past and present Tuesday: Your party’s message isn’t good enough to prevent disaster in November, and neither is the NRCC’s [National Republican Congressional Committee's] money. The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama or anti-Rev. Wright campaign, they are simply going to fail. More… (US Elections 2008)

The article's message is either poppycock or balderdash. I haven't figured out which. A candidate's "brand" is not the Party. Rather, it is the candidate herself or himself. Also, if those supposed "leaders" had done a better job leading, well, things would be better.

There's much hand-wringing lately over the loss of Republican candidate Woody Jenkins in a supposedly "safe" election in Louisiana. As Karl Rove put it Tuesday night, "Look, Woody Jenkins [who's lost more elections than Britney Spears has mispaced underwear] is a fine man, but he's terrible candidate." I support only exceptional candidates.

As for Woody's loss, the best way to get candidates for congressional races is NOT to "round up all the usual suspects." Instead, get people who have great integrity and a real passion for the voters of their district. They usually win.

More to come on Wednesday.

On my Pennsylvania-specific blog, I have posted a strategy for Keystone State congressional candidates. Since it has national implications, I'm re-posting it here on this national blog. ON THIS BLOG THE EMPHASIS WILL NOT BE ON PROVIDING TIDBITS OF INFORMATION, BUT RATHER ON STRATEGIES AND TACTICS FOR WINNING. "Winning isn't everything -- it's the ONLY thing." (Vince Lombardi)

"[There's] this aspect of the Boy's Club ganging up on her [Hillary] and shoving her out." Chuck Todd, MSNBC

Barack Obama will almost certainly be the Democrats' presidential nominee. The question for presidential nominee John McCain and congressional candidates like Melissa Hart, Toni Gilhooley, Mike Livingston, and Marina Kats is how can they pick up the votes of Hillary Clinton supporters.

A lot of Hillary voters, as many as 45%, say they will not vote for Obama. If they will defect from the Democratic nominee, they may just defect from "down-ballot" candidates.

Melissa, Toni, and Marina can appeal to many disaffected Hillary backers. One major way they can do so is to emphasize the need for Pennsylvania to elect women to federal offices, including the presidency and the Congress.

The Republican candidates need to emphasize the many things they have in common with Hillary voters, especially their belief that Mrs. Clinton was mistreated by the national media (which is true) and by the arbitrary rules set by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean (also true).

Melissa, Toni, and Marina should say very explicitly -- and often -- that they want the Hillary supporters to back them. But won't that offend Obama voters? Possibly, but who cares? They're the left-wing types who aren't going to vote for any Republicans.

Consider a few example of results from the Pennsylvania Primary:

4th District (Beaver County, Melissa's District) Hillary 28,205 Barack 12,184

17th District (Lebanon, Toni's District) Hillary 7,316 Barack 5,772

13th District (Montgomery, Marina's District) Hillary 77,762 Barack 75,515

I sent the following e-mail to Sharon Caliendo, a political consultant in the Southwest:Sharon: Thanks so much for passing my "Hillary Strategy" along to Congressman Tom Cole's office.

The issue has really nothing to do with whether someone "agrees" with Hillary. On some issues Hillary is okay (there are lots of issues after all!) and on some she is not so good.The real question: is Mrs. Clinton getting shafted by the Democrats' "old boys network" and by the national media, which hates her? The answer is yes.

Consider again Chuck Todd's comment last night on MSNBC: "[There's] this aspect of the Boy's Club ganging up on her [Hillary] and shoving her out."Bingo, Mr. Todd.

As I'm saying on my blogs -- and trying to get many others to say the same thing -- it will help Republican candidates (especially females) to start pointing out that Mrs. Clinton is getting savaged by media and political hacks (Howard Dean) who have done everything they can to wreck her campaign.Our Republican candidates should start saying that out loud (and in press releases).

Many Democrats, especially women voters, believe it's time in our nation's progress for a female candidate to get the nomination for the presidency.I've been advocating that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin be our GOP candidate for President in 2012 (if we lose this election) or 2016. I've done this not because she's a woman but because she is a remarkable human being and the most effective elected official in any state.

In PA, Hillary Clinton won nearly every county -- in some cases, she won by three-to-one or even four-to-one. We need to reach out (and keep reaching out) to Hillary Clinton supporters. They are the keys to John McCain winning the presidency -- and to many fine candidates getting elected to Congress.

Sharon, I want people like Melissa Hart, Toni Gilhooley, and Marina Kats to win elections. To do so, they have to defy some of the conventional wisdom, especially the elements that will lead to "conventional" defeats.

The three Republican candidates did NOT grow up with "silver spoons" in their mouths, and they need to get that across to Hillary supporters.

In the PA Primary on April 22, Mrs. Clinton got 1.25 million votes, an amazing total. Many of those voters will understand that we're running superb candidates this year. Winning is just so much more enjoyable than losing.

John McCain has said he wants to contest for every vote. I hope every one of our candidates, male or female, takes that approach. Sen. Clinton has campaigned with real ferocity and skill. She should have our respect for that.

(Note: Here's what Adam, a Coloradan and probably the best young political operative in the country, said about the thoughts in this column: "Good strategy. I'm not an expert on PA, but Hillary supporters certainly seem like a key to GOP victory. If you can hang Obama around a local Dem's neck, you might be able to pick of quite a few votes. The only caveat is that you probably can't associate Obama too closely with Dems who backed Clinton.")

Following are additional statements on the "Hillary Strategy." I posted them on, an important site bringing together McCain supporters. I urge you to visit and register so you can participate on it.

Like you, I've been fascinated by the "exit polls" showing that a great many Hillary Clinton voters (nearly half in Indiana) are saying that will not vote for Barack Obama. Very, very interesting -- and more than just "interesting."

On my Pennsylvania blog ( I'm asking John McCain and several great (female) congressional candidates in PA to go after those Hillary supporters. It's essential that John McCain (and other GOP hopefuls) start asking explicity for support from voters who have backed Mrs. Clinton.

Frankly, I hope John McCain and other candidates for federal offices say and do some unconventional things. Specifically, I hope they say that Mrs. Clinton is being savaged by the national media (which happens to be true). I also hope they say (accurately) that the Senator is being shafted by Howard Dean and other members of what Chuck Todd (of MSNBC) calls "the Democratic 'Old Boy's' Club."

If we scratch Hillary's back, many of her supporters will end up scratching ours.
Recognize that it makes eminent sense for Republicans to treat Howard Dean (an odious creature) like a political pinata. Actions by Dean and other in his Democrat Cabal -- specifically, the dinenfranchisement of Michigan and Florida Democrats should be a major issue for McCain.

We need to sympathize (now!) with those disenfrachised Democrats. We must remind those voters that Dean is treating them like dirt. Deans' strong-arm tactics are depriving Mrs. Clinton of the nomination.

Yes, I'm aware that in politics the actions I'm advocating "just aren't done." Why they're not done, however, is a question that has no real good answer.

In my home state of Pennsylvania, I'm strongly backing one presidential candidate (John McCain) and four great congressional candidates (Mike Livingston, Melissa Hart, Toni Gilhooley, and Marina Kats). I have this terrible sense that if all four of them don't reach out forcefully -- and explicitly -- to Hillary's suppoters, then all they all could lose Pennsylvania.

John McCain has said many times that he wants to "contest for every vote." In the Pennsylvania Primary, Mrs. Clinton got 1.25 million votes. I'm a selfish Republican -- and I hope McCain and others also are. I want a good chunk of those million-and-a-quarter votes to go to oustanding Republican candidates, starting with John McCain.

In recent memory, Senator Clinton said the following: "I have a lifetime of experince. John McCain has a lifetime of experience. Senator Obama has a speech [against the Iraq War] that he gave in 2002." I hope McCain is readying a commercial featuring Clinton making that statement.

Yes, when the Democratic Primary comes to and end -- presumably at some point in our lifetimes -- Mrs. Clinton will go through the motions of endorsing Barack Obama. But her heart -- and I assume she has one -- will not be in it. In reality, she will be looking ahead to 2012 and her race against . . . President McCain.

So, let's go get those Hillary supporters. We need to sympathize with them about their candidate's legitimate grievances against the Obama-loving media and the Clinton-hating national chairman (Dean). If we ask sincerely for their votes, we can get them -- and in massive numbers.

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