A few days ago I watched “The War Room,” the Academy Award nominated documentary about Bill Clinton’s 1992 Campaign. It is still the best movie I know on the business of getting out a political message. If you know a teenager interested in politics, this is the film to rent.
Towards the end, a much younger James Carville comes into frame wearing a t-shirt that reads “Speed Killed George Bush.” His shirt refers to Clinton’s ability to instantly respond to any attack. Bill Clinton knew he couldn’t control the stories of that campaign – he had entered it carrying too much scandalous baggage – but he could control the SPACE in which those stories were told. That space is the media’s 24-hour news cycle. Clinton’s War Room made sure that at the end of each day it was Bill Clinton’s spin (their HERO’S POV) that voters would remember.
The folks at Team Hillary are past masters at this. A few months ago I mentioned how quickly Hillary responded when she saw John Edward’s health care plan going over big with the crowds in Iowa. She has done it again.
Roughed up in last night’s Debate in Philly, and smarting from the announcement earlier in the day that Edwards had been endorsed by the New Hampshire SEIU (The Service Employees International Union, one of the nations most politically militant labor groups) her team immediately announced an endorsement by an even larger union – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees widely known for its political skill at backing winners. It is not just about boots on the ground, it is about perceptions of boots on the ground.
If Hillary stays close to Edwards and trades blow for blow, he is going down. Whatever John. E. does next, he has to throw off her timing.