Sunday, July 08, 2007

Now You're Talking

Robert Novak writes that the reporters following Barack Obama on the campaign trail have very little access to him and therefore find him "aloof":

Obama traveled in an SUV, at first alone and later with his family. No reporter ever entered the SUV, and Obama never visited the bus containing the reporters. One scheduled press availability was trimmed to 10 minutes.

Contrast Obama's treatment of the press with Bill Clinton's treatment as he joined his wife on a recent campaign swing in Iowa:

Obama's aloofness contrasted with Bill Clinton, accompanying Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in Iowa the same week. At the Dairy Treat in Nashua, Iowa, the former president whipped out $60 and bought malts for reporters following his wife.
Do not underestimate the power of free malts (or free cocktail weenies, free cucumber martinis or other assorted free goodies) to buy excellent coverage from the press. While allowing access to the candidate certainly helps (the McCain of 2000 allowed almost 24 hour access to the candidate for the press and you'll remember that they became his biggest fan base and constituency for a long, long time (until his Iraq war stance ruined it), free stuff helps even more.

BTW, McCain knew that in 2000 too. Tucker Carlson wrote this in his book Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites:

McCain ran an entire presidential campaign aimed primarily at journalists. He understood that the first contest in a presidential race is always the media primary. He campaigned hard to win it. To a greater degree than any candidate in thirty years, McCain offered reporters the three things they want most: total access all the time, an endless stream of amusing quotes, and vast quantities of free booze. . . .

I saw reporters call McCain "John," sometimes even to his face and in public. I hear others, usually at night in the hotel bar, slip into the habit of referring to the McCain campaign as "we"- as in, "I hope we kill Bush." It was wrong, but it was hard to resist.

These days McCain seems to have forgotten what he knew in 2000 about trying to win the "media primary." And Barack Obama never seems to have learned it (perhaps a good thing for the ethical nature of his candidacy, though not for the efficacy of it.) But Bill Clinton, ever the charmer (or scammer), seems to know a little something about it...

Mingling with the public doesn't always yield the desired results. I just read that a couple of fawning Iowa women got all excited when they mistook Bill Clinton for Bob Barker. ;-)

Hmmm, maybe the Dems should run Barker. He's not doing anything these days.
Plus old Bob has his own sexual harassment charges and controversies from the past!
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