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August 31, 2012

A Look Inside A Karl Rove Pitch Meeting For American Crossroads And Other Stuff

Some idiot rich guy invited a reporter to one of Karl Rove's fundraising meetings in Tampa. Nothing stupid was said (Rove and team are smart enough to know any meeting with more than two people is essentially public) but it's a really interesting look into the world of courting big money donors.

Rove explained that Crossroads had conducted extensive focus groups and shared polling and focus group data with “all the major groups that are playing” in the election. “As many of you know, one of the most important things about Crossroads is: We don’t try and do this alone. We have partners,” he said. “The Kochs—you name it.”

What had emerged from that data is an “acute understanding of the nature of those undecided, persuadable” voters. “If you say he’s a socialist, they’ll go to defend him. If you call him a ‘far out left-winger,’ they’ll say, ‘no, no, he’s not.’” The proper strategy, Rove declared, was criticizing Obama without really criticizing him—by reminding voters of what the president said that he was going to do and comparing it to what he’s actually done. “If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they’re gonna agree with you.”

...

Rove’s analysis of the Senate races was technical and masterly. The Republicans need four seats to gain a majority, and Rove said he feels “really good” about Nebraska and is optimistic about North Dakota, even though Democrats have a strong candidate in former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp. “We’re deeply engaged” there, Rove said. In Wisconsin, former Governor Tommy Thompson “has an excellent shot to win—he has a quirky, cross-party appeal.” Virginia is going to be tight and will likely mirror the way the state votes in the presidential race. Of those, Rove declared, “we can win three.”

In Connecticut, Rove noted that Linda McMahon, the former head of World Wrestling Entertainment, whom he had once written off, was running a “really smart campaign.” And the state, he noted, had moved more to the right. “Those affluent, socially liberal, economically conservative people in Fairfield County and the New York suburbs have finally figured out that their pocketbooks matter more than abortion.”

There are six Republican incumbents Rove identified as in jeopardy, but the biggest risk to Republican hopes of retaking the Senate is Todd Akin in Missouri, following his comments about “legitimate rape.” Rove urged every attendee to apply pressure on Akin to convince him to leave the race. “We have five people who are interested” in replacing Akin, Rove said. “We don’t care who the nominee is, other than get Akin out.”

Just from personal experience I think Rove is right about the tone of the campaign. I know we all want red meat all the time but we simply aren't the target audience. There has to be some hard hitting stuff but the few hundred thousand people Mitt needs in each of a handful of states don't react to it the same way we do.

If Mitt and team can keep the right combination of hard hitting, more in sadness than anger and personal revelation they struck in his speech last night, he'll do very well.

A couple of thoughts about last night:

-Romney was great. He's gotten so much better on the stump. I was pretty close to the stage for his speech to the American Legion on Wednesday and was shocked at how much better he was in person than on TV. Last night a lot of that came through.

-Eastwood was alternatively hilarious and horrifying. It would have been much more effective as a Night One event. It was simply out of place last night.

-The elderly couple and especially the woman who lost a daughter were fantastic character witnesses for Mitt. They need to be in ads, lots of ads pronto.

-Rubio was great as always. No one in politics today gives the "love letter to America" speech any better. He's going to be President some day. I just hope he leaves the Senate and does a term as Governor first. There's plenty of time for it.

-Whoever scheduled last night needs to be shot and then fired. The personal testimonials were fantastic but following them up with two generic politico types and then the Bain stuff (which was good, just not as good as the personal speeches) sucked the energy out of them and they were too distant from Romney's speech. Also, showing the bio video out of the network window in exchange for Eastwood was simply political malpractice.

Mitt was let down by his staff last night but much to my surprise, he bailed them out.

Today Romney is heading to New Orleans. Smart move to distance himself from Bush and beat Obama there. There was talk in Indianapolis he was going to go from the Legion speech to the Gulf Coast but I guess the storm was still raging there so it didn't work out. That would have been very aggressive programming.


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posted by DrewM. at 09:50 AM

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