by John Hawkins | November 28, 2005 2:32 pm
I don’t agree with everything in Polipundit’s excellent post about what the Republicans are doing wrong and what they need to be doing differently, but I agree with almost everything in it. I differ in that I think the President and Vice President’s speeches on Iraq have been a necessary and very welcome addition to the debate. The web video and ad produced by the RNC, based on the pushback in those speeches, were excellent and credit should be given for those efforts, but if that ad was actually run anywhere the average television viewer could see it, I am unaware of it.
Polipundit is right that Democrats are much better at manipulating the media. I think that is mainly because the media is so sympathetic to them that they really don’t have to do much of anything, strategy wise, to get good coverage. On the other hand, when Republicans finally decide to defend themselves against vicious attacks and untrue allegations, they are branded in the media as “going on the attack” against Democrats. That is why it is necessary to use paid advertising in addition to the speeches and free media.
I have been a big proponent of this ever since I saw Bill Clinton use it successfully against congressional Republicans when he used a media blitz against them which began over a year before the election. I still remember those grainy black and white shots of Gingrich and Dole in those ads. I have asked many times over the years why the RNC does not run ads in off years to correct the record and to create more positive images of Republicans. Instead, they let those false impressions sit out there until they become conventional wisdom. I know that there are advantages to waiting until the voters are paying attention to spend ad dollars, but if in the meantime those voters are exposed to false information that becomes ingrained as truth, it is much harder to correct the record long after the fact. It needs to be done while the specifics of the debate are fresh and before opinions are formed. This is something I have not seen the Republican party do with much success.
It is absolutely ridiculous that for the past few years polls have shown that most Americans think the economy is weak, when the economic indicators have shown the opposite. The same thing goes for the effort in Iraq. If the MSM will not tell the stories of good news on the economy or Iraq, Republicans have to tell the story themselves. While speeches are a good and necessary start, other methods mentioned by Polipundit, such as the use of forced votes in the Congress and paid advertising, will be necessary to compete with a media rooting for the Democrats and ignoring any story that could show the administration in a good light.
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