Saturday, September 27, 2008

Message to McCain: Put Palin in the Game

The final chapter of the 2008 campaign will be a post-election re-evaluation of the strategies used by the presidential candidates. Post-election analysis is an easy thing for political analysts. Let me though try to take a stab at pre-election analysis regarding a big mistake McCain is making.

The VP selection of Sarah Palin has been thus far the single best moment of the McCain campaign. She brought energy and a freshness to the Republican ticket. She appealed to conservatives in a way that McCain could not. The public fell in love with her. In a brief period, she became more of a celebrity than Obama.

Then the McCain people put her under wraps. They limited her interviews and instructed her not to take questions from the media. The fear was that her inexperience on the campaign trail would lead her to say something that might have to be retracted, clarified, or further explained. You know the sort of thing called a "gaffe." For an example, see Vice President Joe Biden who commits one nearly every time he opens his mouth.

Biden actually is a good example. Here is a guy that, even though he's been a Senator for most of my life, is constantly making verbal mistakes. Yet the media and public forgive him and move on because he doesn't back away from answering questions. Despite the gaffes, the Obama people know to let Biden be Biden. Restricting Biden's press contacts would cut into his effectiveness as a campaigner.

That's a lesson the McCain people need to learn. Will Palin make mistakes on the campaign trail? Absolutely. No one expects her to have the accumulated knowledge of a McCain or Biden on the issues. People and the media will forgive mistakes and move on. What can't be forgiven is if McCain leaves his star player on the bench during the most important campaign of his life. It's time to put Palin in the game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ogden's suggestion to "free Palin" is on the mark.

The trophy flashing, micromanagement of talent is bipolar & defeatist; not a winning strategy.