Election 2012: Please, Candidates, Help the Pundits – and Work Your Way to a Better Media Strategy

By Debra Caruso, DJC Communications 

The pundits are depressed. A number I’ve heard over the past few days have said the presidential campaign has taken a gloomy and disappointing turn and it’s getting to them. One of my favorites, Mike Barnicle, a regular on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said he was exhausted, presumably tired of listening to all the bickering and the lack of substance in this year’s political discourse.  

Those running each of the media operations for the candidates must be seriously off their game if the political junkies, the ones who actually make their livings talking politics are feeling so during an election year – the one out of four they live for. The implications for the Average Joe are huge.

How can the campaigns redirect their media strategies to move the conversation away from one side calling the President of the United States un-American and the other saying Governor Romney is deceitful?

First, let’s get beyond the nonsense dominating the speeches, commercials and talk shows, everything from what the candidates say to what’s put out there by their reps – the daily talking point, the staff interviews, etc.:

  • President Obama is not a subversive. He was born in the U.S. He’s a democrat, not a socialist.  And, having been a constitutional lawyer, U.S. Senator and now president, he has more credentials as an American than most.
  • While Romney should be releasing his tax returns for at least the past five years, it is also wrong to say he’s a liar.  If there were discrepancies in his tax returns, or any evidence of wrongdoing, believe me someone at the IRS would have had him audited by now and the results, if damaging, would have leaked. The former governor may have foreign bank accounts and he may be taking advantage of tax loopholes, but he must be within the law because he hasn’t been called out.
  • Romney may be wishy-washy, flip-floppy, or whatever, but he has been a successful businessman who steered the Salt Lake City Olympics in the right direction and instituted a number of successful policies in Massachusetts, including Romneycare.

Now, let’s do some real campaigning.

President Obama and Governor Romney, how do you propose to put more Americans back to work? How will you cut spending and reduce the deficit? How will you begin to pay back the nation’s debt? How will you improve the lives of Americans by reducing crime, fixing the crumbling infrastructure, reducing dependence on foreign oil and bringing the U.S. to new heights in business, technology, science and medicine? Where is OUR high speed rail?

The first candidate to refuse to talk about the former, to focus only on the latter – and to require his minions to do the same – will begin to be perceived positively by both the media and the voting American public. Both should be out there every day refusing to be negative. Each should offer only constructive ideas.

Please, do us a favor, gentlemen, and brighten the lives of those depressed political prognosticators and let poor Mike Barnicle feel refreshed once again. There are three months left until the election. We’d all like to be less disillusioned and more inspired. If you can’t do it for the American public, do it for the pundits, please.