Friday, May 9, 2008

What McCain Should Learn from Hillary

The pundit chorus has enjoyed picking over the carcass of our former First Lady’s campaign. While I take no pleasure in kicking her when she's down, her mistakes provide some 'teachable moments' for the McCain campaign.

Internet fundraising and activism matters. Obama and Ron Paul have siphoned undecided voters by being *everywhere*, ready with an accusatory link or fabrications any time their candidate is mentioned. Hillary has a professional site for Moms (ahem ahem) but significantly less visibility on the web. I'm not advising McCain supporters to stoop, lie, stalk, troll, or flame, but being present and speaking up will matter. A new wave of undecided voters will be looking for answers, we have to be available to provide the RIGHT answers and information they need to choose McCain. There ARE reasonable people out there, and they ARE more likely to be swayed by ‘here is McCain’s actual voting record’ rather than ‘Wooo! Obama forever sucka!’

Demographics matter less than values. We heard a litany of experts explain Hillary's supremacy among Catholics, blue-collar workers, women, and other 'slices' of American pie. But in real life, many Catholics are uncompromisingly pro-life, blue-collar Midwesterners desperately need the tax cuts, and women vote their heads and not their hormones. The more Hillary’s campaign relied on forced ‘friendship’ from each slice, the more voters resisted her. McCain's one-on-one style rises above stereotypes and allows voters to judge for themselves. McCain is rated higher than Clinton and Obama for ‘sharing voters’ values’ – undecided voters will see that in action when McCain takes the high road during his campaign.

Change is gonna come. Other pundits criticized Hillary for running 'as an incumbent' and emphasizing her experience. One thing Obama has right (please hold your rotten tomatoes) is the legitimate need for change in the government and the people's expectations for each other. The antidote to the “Change we Can Believe In” argument is McCain’s proven record of “Change we have seen” – on finance reform, judicial appointments, bipartisan progress, and more. Change is needed in all branches of government but it will take finesse and diplomacy to make that happen. McCain is the candidate with proven results on his record.

The truth is more persuasive than you think. Hillary could have made a perfectly valid point about her foreign policy credentials by saying "I've traveled more than Obama" or "I've met more world leaders." But in her efforts to paint a 'more persuasive' picture, what should have been a compelling advantage became a sniper-fire tall tale punchline.

McCain's greatest strength (and yes, occasional weakness) is sticking to the truth. Voters picked up on this months ago, rating him as the most trustworthy candidate. At town hall meetings he greeted friends and adversaries alike, without benefit of a mouth full of waffle. While it’s sometimes tempting as supporters to sugar-coat or selectively edit McCain, it’s better to make the let the man and his policies speak for themselves.

Hundreds of thousands of Hillary supporters will become undecided voters if and when Obama is named as the nominee. I encourage all Moms who support McCain to take action today – tell a friend or a stranger, in person or online, who John McCain is and what kind of President he will be.

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