How Obama can win the campaign? Ask the media

Jake Turcotte

If Obama campaign honchos David Axelrod and David Plouffe are worried about the next steps for their candidate, help is on the way.

With 51 days to go and polls showing that Republican nominee John McCain is either slightly ahead or tied with Barack Obama, there is plenty of advice this Sunday morning specifically geared to help the Democratic nominee.

Willie Brown, former Mayor of San Francisco, tells Obama to knock off the jokes.

And forget the comedy, Barack. You are not naturally funny and you do not speak "street." You speak like a professor. And you do not know how to set up a joke. That "lipstick on a pig" line clearly backfired.
If you had said, "As John McCain said about Hillary Clinton's health care ... lipstick on a pig is still a pig," at least you would have had a frame of reference to fall back on.
You didn't, you left yourself left wide open and you got nailed. Now everything you say will be double-examined for sexism.

Columnist Errol Lewis over at the New York Daily News says forget about Sarah Palin - focus your energy on John McCain.

Every day, in every speech, Obama needs to hammer home the Bush administration's record of failure and remind voters that "McSame" has presented an astonishingly thin plan for rescuing the American middle class from lower wages, rising tuition prices and falling home values.
Obama's message to swing voters infatuated with Palin should be: Sure, you like her, and why not? But teaching abstinence isn't going to lower your taxes, help with your kid's college tuition or save your job from being outsourced - and I have a plan that will. Take a look.

Columnist Frank Rich at the New York Times says the Obama campaign needs to follow the advice of Karl Rove in dealing with Palin.

How do you run against that flashy flimflam? You don’t. Karl Rove for once gave the Democrats a real tip rather than a bum steer when he wrote last week that if Obama wants to win, “he needs to remember he’s running against John McCain for president,” not Palin for vice president. Obama should keep stepping up the blitz on McCain’s flip-flops, confusion, ignorance and blurriness on major issues (from education to an exit date from Iraq), rather than her gaffes and résumé. If he focuses voters on the 2008 McCain, the Palin question will take care of itself.

Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe says don't forget Senator Clinton.

Today, Obama needs Clinton. He needs her to repeat often what she said to her supporters in Denver: "I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?"
It's a good question for Clinton, too.

Just forget Palin says Toby Harnden over at Real Clear Politics.

It's folly, of course, for Obama to be engaging with Palin. It diminishes him by equating him with the number two on the other ticket. And far from neutralizing the question mark over his experience, the discussion of her qualifications has ensured that his thin resume will remain front and center.
Obama should be giving Palin a good ignoring while his campaign hammers away at her record and McCain's linkages to President George W. Bush - not his vetting process (a Beltway preoccupation of no relevance beyond whether it missed anything damaging) or her family.

What would Bill Clinton do? Politico's John Harris speculates that the former President could give Obama an eight-step guide to campaign success including step number seven: Stop smoking whatever it is you are smoking.

One important thing to remember: Obama has never faced a serious race against a Republican. His important victories in Illinois and this year have all been against other Democrats in nomination battles.
Some Clinton allies say this may tend to warp his perspective about how politics works and what kind of issues and stories matter in a presidential context. Bottom line: it does not matter who is getting better coverage in the New York Times.

The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page says Obama needs to "get serious" and put the Clintons to work.

Obama should not let the niceties of liberal political correctness prevent his campaign from tying McCain and Palin to Bush. Palin makes that easy. She's a harder hardliner than McCain. The issue is not lipstick on a pig but a continuation of Bush years in high heels.
Obama also needs to put the Clintons to good use. I don't know what Obama and President Bill Clinton discussed in their private Sept. 11 lunch in New York, but Obama should have tuned in to advice from the master on how to reach those voters who have been the slowest to embrace Obama as "one of us."

Comedian Paul Reiser over at the Huffington Post says there is only so much Obama can do.

Now everyone is calling for Obama to "get angry." "Get out there and frown this way, curl your lip that way, and clench your fist like so." And, I don't know..... That'd be cool. Sure. But I don't think the fix can come just from him. There's only so much the guy can do. It's going to have to be us. I don't know what exactly we need to do, but I know we'll do it. I have to believe -- I mean I really have to believe we're big enough, strong enough and smart enough to reclaim what's ours.

Finally, Michael Barone at U.S. News and World Report says the Obama campaign shouldn't look to the media for help.

Perhaps the Obama campaign strategists expected their many friends in the mainstream media to do their work for them. Certainly they tried. But their efforts have misfired, and the grenades they lobbed at Palin have ricocheted back and blown up in their faces. Voters are on to their game.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen finds that 68 percent believe "most reporters try to help the candidate they want to win" and that 51 percent -- more than support McCain -- believe the press is "trying to hurt" Sarah Palin. The press and the Democratic ticket are paying the price for decades of biased mainstream media coverage.
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