Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Kerry's Response

Kerry's response to Bush's recent attack ad "100 days" was not engaging. Kerry should learn a lesson from Dean's demise in Iowa. He needs to either rise above, or find substantive ways to neutralize his opponent's attacks. Stay on message and on target, but if a response is needed devote an entire ad campaign to it. Trying to both counter an attack and present a positive message in the same ad only makes both parts of the message a waste of air time.

I forsee Kerry rolling out an ad in response to Bush's latest attack ad, "Troops", which is perhaps the most misleading and hypocritical ad I've ever seen. I hope that Kerry doesn't make the same mistake. Kerry's approach in "Bush Misleading America" of calling such attack ads misleading is a good one, but it needs to focus strongly on the credibility gap of the Administration on all subjects, and not just the specific attack ad's charges - that is just playing defense, losing Kerry's immense political initiative. If Kerry gets set back on his heels by these ads so that his message becomes simply responding to attacks, he is toast.

Folding the issue of misleading political ads into other specific examples of lying and distorting the truth by the Bush Administration is, I think, the most effective approach. Using response ads to directly undermine the credibility of Bush Administration's pronouncements and messages will reduce the need to respond to such attacks in the future. Kerry needs to hammer a point home about Bush in his responses, i.e., that you cannot trust anything the Bush Administration says, not just about John Kerry, but about anything. Then, perhaps, we'll some galvanic skin response by viewers.


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