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Obama's middle name - not in the talking points!

By Jimmy Orr / October 9, 2008

Jake Turcotte


It's a war of words.  Whether it is Sarah Palin's overuse of the word "maverick," John McCain's anguish-inducing repetition of "my friends," or the gaffe-laden potpourri emanating from Joe Biden, the words candidates say are always under the microscope.

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Surrogates and supporters do best when they act like parrots – mimicking talking points rather than expressing a thought of their own. And actually, that's fair. You don't vote for spokespeople. You vote for the candidate.

Where'd they go?

Not everyone gets the memo.

When a spokesperson or a surrogate freelances, they head into deep water. Some are never to be seen again.

Carly Fiorina, of the infamous "Palin is not qualified to run a business" remark only to be outdone by her "McCain is not qualified to run a business" statement, currently resides with sleestaks in the Land of the Lost.

Former Senator and McCain adviser Phil Gramm, after the "we're a nation of whiners" remark, is – especially now in light of the country's economic meltdown – considered raw plutonium.

And what seems like millennia ago now, when General Wesley Clark was auditioning for vice president back in early August he decided to overly challenge John McCain's military record.  He's now pretty much living in political outer space.

Just sayin'

But how are people supposed to know what is off-limits and what is OK to say if they aren't paying attention to the political news every day?

First, if they are chosen to speak at a rally to introduce a candidate for president or vice president, chances are they're paying attention.  These people are rabid political junkies.

Second, the campaigns brief speakers ahead of time as to what's acceptable.

Despite this, a campaign can't control everything.


Take Lehigh County Pennsylvania's Republican Party chair William Platt or Florida's Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.  Both men served as speakers to warm up the crowd before John McCain or Sarah Palin came on stage.

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