6 Rules for Politicians to Follow

Welcome back....
With 47 days left in the Presidential campaign, it's time to remind ourselves of the rules to follow if you want to get elected  to any office - Senator, Governor, Congressman, Mayor, let alone President. With Mitt Romney's recent problems on the campaign trail, let's nail down those rules, shall we?
Six Rules for Politicians to Follow
1. If you make a mistake get out there and say you're sorry. In Mitt Romney's case, the leak by Jimmy Carter's grandson of a video taken at a fundraiser several months ago showed him writing off 47% of the electorate. Now that's a mistake!  Admit that what you said was wrong and use the opportunity to get across the message that you meant to convey. Did it happen? No, instead Mitt went out and refused to take back what he said. He merely dubbed his words "not elegantly stated". Didn't want to sound too elitist, I guess. Romney stands by his comments
2. Never interrrupt a hanging.  In Obama's case, when he was asked to respond to Romney's gaffe (on The David Letterman Show - rather than attack Romney again - he merely said "a President has to be President for all the people". Pow! Although an awkward issue emerged when the President was asked by Letterman how much the national debt was and he replied that he couldn't remember! Maybe the answer - $16 trillion - $5 trillion of which was added in the past four years - was too painful to recall!
3. Let nothing get in between you and your voter. Every day that you spend having to defend yourself is a 'gift that keeps on giving' to your opponent, because the controversy and emotions cloud the ability to get your message across. Over the past two weeks, Mitt Romney has spent more days defending, explaining or trying to ignore the lead story on the news.
4. When there are lives lost, suspend 'politics as usual' for at least 24 to 48 hours. Timing is everything in politics - and in life for that matter. Romney's initial comments criticizing the Obama Administration for apologizing for that idiotic video which was the pretext for the storming of the American embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Libya. His attack on Obama came across as playing partisan politics while four American diplomats had just been murdered. Only now are the media interested in exploring whether or not the attacks were pre-planned.
5. Remember that the swing voter doesn't respond to your usual campaign talking points. They want to hear something different. Something that doesn't sound knee-jerk partisan or cheap-shot attacks. They want to hear a message and a tone that takes seriously the real issues and that the candidate doesn't take him or herself too seriously. To quote Will Rogers, "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." That might explain Mr. Obama's appearances on the late night talk shows. Mr. Romney could learn that lesson.
6. It's (almost) never too late to do the right thing. Let's say your campaign has been off the rails for months - trying to be someone you're not, afraid of offending your base etc., if you recognize it and decide to do something about it, go ahead. It's never too late. There are signs in the past day or two that the Romney campaign recognizes this. Romney has been moderating or nuancing his positions on health care (speaking proudly of his Massachusetts health care law); immigration reform (debunking his earlier suggestion for 'self-deportation'); growing the economy for 100% of Americans etc. Haunted, no doubt, by the 'etch-a-sketch' controversy that his aide predicted for the Fall campaign, it may have delayed him finally trying to get back on track.

So, is it too late for Mitt Romney? If a week is a lifetime in politics, Mitt Romney has nearly seven lifetimes to get it right! At this stage, though, his clear turnaround opportunity will be the debates, and of those, the strongest opportunity to re-launch is the first debate on October 3rd. I've got the beer on ice, the clicker nearby and the popcorn ready to pop!

One of my favorite political quotes:

"Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation."
Henry A. Kissinger

Until next time.....

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