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Posts Tagged ‘John Heilemann’

STRATEGI | Mitt Romney såg sin chans att vinna presidentvalet efter att ha besegrat Barack Obama i den första tv-sända val debatten 2012.

New York 11 nov 2013

Teamet som ansvarade för att förbereda president Barack Obama inför de tre inplanerade debatterna började känna oro. Det var en oro de inte var ensamma om.

Även den i vanliga fall så självsäkre Obama började tveka om han klarade av den här typen av framträdanden.

“I just don’t know if I can do this”, var Obamas överraskande kommentar vid ett tillfälle. Det avslöjas i den nyutkomna boken Double Down: Game Change 2012 av John Heilemann och Mark Halperin.

Obama hade haft en konstant ledning i opinionsmättningarna under hela valrörelsen. Men det var också en högst marginell ledning.

Det fanns därför ingen garanti att för att Romney inte skulle ta ledningen och vända valrörelsen till sin egen fördel om presidenten misslyckades även i nästkommande duell.

Även presidenten insåg att något måste göras.

 “These are not debates,” Obama observed to Plouffe. “These are gladiatorial enterprises.”

The first lady worried about her Maximus and his return to the Colosseum. In truth, she had fretted over the debates even before Denver. In July, around the time her husband’s prep started, she met with Plouffe and expressed firm opinions. That Barack had to speak from the gut, in language that regular folks could understand. Had to avoid treating the debates like policy seminars. Had to keep his head out of the clouds.

[…]

The president was presented with a piece of overarching advice and a memo, both of which would have been inconceivable before Denver. The advice was […] “the Six A’s”:

Advocate (don’t explain)
Audience
Animated
Attacks
Answers with principles and values
Allow yourself to take advantage of openings

[…]

Klain turned Obama’s prep regime upside down: new strategy, new tactics, new structure. In Williamsburg, there would be an intense concentration on performance, including speeding up Obama’s ponderous delivery. There would be less policy Q&A and more rehearsal of set pieces and lines that popped. Less emphasis on programmatic peas and spinach, more on anecdote and empathy. Contrary to Clinton’s advice, there would be plenty of punching to go along with the counterpunching.

[…]

“We’re here, Mr. President,” Klain began, “because we need to have a serious conversation about why this isn’t working and the fundamental transformation we need to achieve today to avoid a very bad result tomorrow night.” We’re not going to get there by continuing to grind away and marginally improve, Klain went on. This is not about changing the words in your debate book, because the difference between the answers that work and the answers that don’t work is just 15 or 20 percent. This is about style, engagement, speed, presentation, attitude. Candidly, we need to figure out why you’re not rising to and meeting the challenge—why you’re not really doing this, why you’re doing … something else.

Obama didn’t flinch. “Guys, I’m struggling,” he said somberly. “Last night wasn’t good, and I know that. Here’s why I think I’m having trouble. I’m having a hard time squaring up what I know I need to do, what you guys are telling me I need to do, with where my mind takes me, which is: I’m a lawyer, and I want to argue things out. I want to peel back layers.”

[…]

“When I get a question,” he said, “I go right to the logical.” You ask me a question about health care. There’s a problem, and there’s a response. Here’s what my opponent might say about it, so I’m going to counteract that. Okay, we’re gonna talk about immigration. Here’s what I’d like to say—but I can’t say that. Think about what that means. I know what I want to say, I know where my mind takes me, but I have to tell myself, No, no, don’t do that—do this other thing. It’s against my instincts just to perform. It’s easy for me to slip back into what I know, which is basically to dissect arguments. I think when I talk. It can be halting. I start slow. It’s hard for me to just go into my answer. I’m having to teach my brain to function differently. I’m left-handed; this is like you’re asking me to start writing right-handed.

Throughout the campaign, Obama had been criticized for the thin gruel of his second-term agenda. Now he acknowledged that it bothered him, too, and posed a challenge for the debates.

You keep telling me I can’t spend too much time defending my record, and that I should talk about my plans, he said. But my plans aren’t anything like the plans I ran on in 2008. I had a universal-health-care plan then. Now I’ve got … what? A manufacturing plan? What am I gonna do on education? What am I gonna do on energy? There’s not much there.

“I can’t tell you that ‘Okay, I woke up today, I knew I needed to do better, and I’ll do better,’ ” Obama said. “I am wired in a different way than this event requires.”

Obama paused.

“I just don’t know if I can do this,” he said.

Obama’s advisers sat silently at first, absorbing the extraordinary moment playing out in front of them. In October of an election year, on the eve of a pivotal debate, the president wasn’t talking about tactics or strategy, about this line or that zinger. He was talking about personal contradictions and ambivalences, about his discomfort with the campaign he was running, about his unease with the requirements of politics writ large, about matters that were fundamental, even existential. We are in uncharted territory here, thought Klain.

[…]

The full team reconvened in Obama’s hold room. Klain ran through his memo of the previous night and explained to the president the new  new format for his prep: For the rest of the day until his final mock, they were going to drill him incessantly on the ten or so topics they expected to come up in the debate, compelling him to repeat his bullet points over and over again. Klain also presented Obama with his debate-on-a-page:

MUST REMEMBER

1. (Your) Speed Kills (Romney)

2. Upbeat and Positive in Tone

3. Passion for People and Plans

4. OTR [Off the Record] Mind-set—Have Fun

5. Strong Sentences to Start and End

6. Engage the Audience

7. Don’t Chase Rabbits

Resten är vad man säger historia. Obama vann de två nästkommande valdebatterna och behöll därmed ledningen valrörelsen igenom.

Heilemanns och Halperins nya bok Double Down: Game Change 2012 ger en intressant bild av presidenten och alla turerna under valkampanjen.

Här får man följa bl.a. Obamas kampanjteam som bestod av David Axelrod, huvudansvarig för att upprätthålla budskapsdisciplin; David Plouffe, valstrateg och rådgivare i Vita huset; Anita Dunn, tidigare Vita husets communications director; Joel Benenson, tidigare medarbetare hos Mario Cuomo; Jon Favreau, Obamas talskrive samt Ron Klain, ansvarig för Obamas debatträning.

Läs mer: Ovanstående bearbetning är från ett utdrag från boken som publicerats i tidskriften New York.

Tidskriftsomslag: New York, 11 november 2012.

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KAMPANJ | Det är lätt att drabbas av abstinensbesvär efter en valrörelse. Botemedlet är en rejäl dos av valsanalyser.

The 2013 Campaign” av John Heilemann

New York, 19 november 2012

That the essence of Team Obama’s reelection strategy was to capitalize on his strength with what National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein calls “the coalition of the ascendant” had long been clear. Back in May, I wrote a cover story for this ­magazine laying out Chicago’s plan to focus ­laserlike on four key voting blocs: ­African-Americans, Hispanics, college-educated white women, and voters aged 18 to 29. At bottom, the Obaman theory of the case was that, despite the fragility of the recovery and the doubts many voters had about POTUS’s capacity to put America on the path to prosperity, the deft exploitation of coalition politics, together with the ruthless disqualification of Romney as a credible occupant of the Oval Office, could secure the president a second term. That in 2012, in other words, demographics would trump economics.

Obama’s new majority” av John O’Sullivan

The Spectator, 10 november 2012

‘I’ve come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote,’ said President Obama at an emotional ‘last ever’ campaign meeting. ‘Because this is where our movement for change began, right here. Right here.’ And his eyes briefly moistened. The nostalgia was doubtless sincere, and the address correct, but it was misleading to describe his 2012 election campaign as a continuation of his earlier ‘movement for change’. In reality, it has been a smoothly ruthless operation to distract attention from a record that has been disappointingly bereft of change. He triumphed over himself as much as over the hapless Mitt Romney.

The Party Next Time” av Ryan Lizza

The New Yorker, 19 november 2012

When historians look back on Mitt Romney’s bid for the Presidency, one trend will be clear: no Republican candidate ever ran a similar campaign again. For four decades, from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan through the two Bush Presidencies, the Republican Party won the White House by amassing large margins among white voters. Nixon summoned the silent majority. Reagan cemented this bloc of voters, many of whom were former Democrats. Both Bushes won the Presidency by relying on broad support from Reagan Democrats. In that time, Republicans transformed the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican, and they held the White House for twenty-eight out of forty years. Last Tuesday, Romney won three-fifths of the white vote, matching or exceeding what several winning Presidential candidates, including Reagan in 1980 and Bush in 1988, achieved, but it wasn’t enough.

Baksmällan i Washington” av Martin Gelin

Fokus, 9-15 november 2012

USA har en lång politisk tradition av att ställa grupper mot varandra så snart ett val närmar sig. Politiska strateger har med denna metod söndrat och härskat sig till knappa majoriteter i delstaterna och struntat i minoriteten som inte fått politisk representation. Det var den vanan Obama skulle bryta. 2008 hade hans kampanj mottot »Respect, empower, include«. I år lade man till ett sista ord: »Win«. Och med den nya förmågan att rikta kampanjer mot enskilda väljare gjorde man allt för att vinna exakt 50,1 procent av väljarna i respektive delstat.

Läs mer: Tidigare inlägg med valsanalyser från tidskriftsvärlden.

Tidskriftsomslagen: Översta är formgivet av konstnären Craig Redman. Tydligen ”all the rage” för närvarande. Mark Ulriksen skapade ”Rhapsody in Blue” för The New Yorker. Hans tankar om omslaget hittar man här.

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USA | Det är inte bara ideologiskt motiverade republikaner som firar Mitt Romneys val av vicepresidentkandidat. Även för Barack Obama är det goda nyheter.

Hitintills har man inom Romneys kampanj varit smarta nog att inse att deras största chans är försöka få valet att framstå som en folkomröstning om Barack Obamas skötsel av landets ekonomi.

Med valet av Ryan förflyttas fokus bort ifrån Obamas politik. I ett enda slag har valkampanjen istället förvandlats till ett tydligt val mellan två ideologiska system. Precis vad Obama önskar sig.

Om Ryans alternative budgetplan för USA har Johnathan Chait skrivit i “The Legendary Paul Ryan:

Whether Ryan’s plan even is a “deficit-reduction plan” is highly debatable. Ryan promises to eliminate trillions of dollars’ worth of tax deductions, but won’t identify which ones. He proposes to sharply reduce government spending that isn’t defense, Medicare (for the next decade, anyway), or Social Security, but much of that reduction is unspecified, and when Obama named some possible casualties, Ryan complained that those hypotheticals weren’t necessarily in his plan. Ryan is specific about two policies: massive cuts to income-tax rates, and very large cuts to government programs that aid the poor and medically vulnerable. You could call all this a “deficit-reduction plan,” but it would be more accurate to call it “a plan to cut tax rates and spending on the poor and sick.”

Om Romneys strategiska misstag skriver John Heilemann:

His agenda of turning Medicare into a voucher program, bloc-granting and taking the meat axe to Medicaid, drastically cutting spending on virtually every other government program (except defense, natch), and, yes, privatizing Social Security has been called many things, from courageous and bold (by countless conservatives) to “thinly veiled Social Darwinism” (by Obama) and “right-wing social engineering” (by Newt Gingrich). What you cannot call it is vague or vacuous or mealy-mouthed — all words that have been attached to the man at the top of the ticket.

So this was not a safe or conventional pick — not a pick motivated by winning a state (as Portman would have partly been regarding Ohio or Marco Rubio would have partly been regarding Florida). This was a pick about ideas, about policies, about core convictions. But it was also a pick driven by political weakness. All along, Team Romney’s bedrock strategy has been to make the 2012 election a clean referendum on Obama’s economic management and leadership, an election about unemployment, growth, and wages. In elevating Ryan, what Team Romney has done is execute a sharp U-turn, embracing the theory that 2012 will not be a pure referendum but a choice election, and one in which the two sides’ contrasting approaches to the deficit, debt, entitlements, and taxes will take center stage. And while this is surely not a Hail Mary pass on the order of John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin, it is almost as much, as some Romneyites admit, an attempt to (pardon the expression) change the game.

Så i kampen om att definiera valrörelsen i väljarnas ögon – folkomröstning (om Obama) eller ett val (mellan två ideologier) – blinkade Romney först.

Valet av Ryan har fört Barack Obama ännu ett steg närmare en valseger i november.

Läs mer: ”Serious Attack on Ryan Budget Takes Toll on Mitt Romney på den av demokraterna närstående Democracy Corps. (Grundare James Carville och Stanley Greenberg).

Bild: Paul Ryans första twitter-inlägg.

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KAMPANJ | Årets val handlar inte om ”change” och ”hope”. Istället vill Obama få väljarna att frukta konsekvenserna av Mitt Romneys politik.

John Heilemann skriver i tidskriften New York om Obamakampanjens strategi:

The contours of that contest are now plain to see—indeed, they have been for some time. Back in November, Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two fellows at the Center for American Progress, identified the prevailing dynamics: The presidential race would boil down to “demographics versus economics.” That the latter favor Mitt Romney is incontestable. From high unemployment and stagnant incomes to tepid GDP growth and a still-pervasive sense of anxiety bordering on pessimism in the body politic, every salient variable undermines the prospects of the incumbent.

[…]

In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that ­demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.

But if the Obama 2012 strategy in this regard is all about the amplification of 2008, in terms of message it will represent a striking deviation. Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago—running more negative ads than any campaign in history—what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”

Thus, to a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear. For many Democrats, this is just fine and dandy, for they believe that in the Romney-Republican agenda there is plenty to be scared of. For others in the party in both politics and business, however, the new Obama posture is cause for concern. From the gay-­marriage decision to the onslaught on Bain, they see the president and his team as coming across as too divisive, too conventional, and too nakedly political, putting at risk Obama’s greatest asset—his likability—with the voters in the middle of the electorate who will ultimately decide his fate.

[…]

In the campaign prior, Team Obama boldly bid to expand the map; this time, it is playing defense. In the campaign prior, the candidate himself sought support from the widest possible universe of voters; this time, instead of trying to broaden his coalition, he is laboring to deepen it. Indeed, 2012 is shaping up to be an election that looks more like 2004 than 2008: a race propelled by the mobilization of party fundamentalists rather than the courtship of the center.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är New York den 4 juni 2012.

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IDENTITET | Om Mitt Romney förlorar i november kommer republikanska partiet med all sannolikhet kastas in i en identitetskris.

Vad som slår en när man läser om partiet är hur genuint förvånade många skribenter är över partiets politiska utveckling under senare år.

Även ledande politiker inom partiet är oroade över utvecklingen.

Governör Jeb Bush, George W. Bushs bror, har t.ex. ifrågasatt om hans far George H. W. Bush eller ens Ronald Reagan skulle haft en chans att bli nominerade som partiets presidentkandidat idag.

Här är tre läsvärda artiklar om GOP – the Grand Old Party.

Monika Bauerlein och Clara Jeffery: “WTF, GOP?” (Mother Jones, juni 2012)

Ryan Lizza: “Life of the Party” (The New Yorker, 12 mars 2012)

John Heilemann: “The Lost Party” (New York, 5 mars 2012)

Läs även: David Frums ”When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” och ”George and Mitt Romney & the Death of Moderate GOP”.

Övrigt: Om tecknaren Bob Staakes tidskriftsomslag ”State by State” och storyn bakom (och en twist på den).

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Filmen är baserad Game Change av John Heilemann och Mark Halperin. John McCain och Sarah Palin spelas av Ed Harris respektive Julianne Moore.

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JON HUNTSMAN och Mitt Romney anses ha störst chans gentemot Barack Obama. Inte konstigt att de då inte har mycket gott att säga om varandra.

De två har en förvånansvärt likartad bakgrund. Båda är rika, båda är f.d. guvernörer, båda har haft framgångar inom näringslivet och båda tillhör mormonkyrkan. Men man skall inte förledas tro att de har mycket gemensamt politiskt.

John Heilemann, i tidskriften New York, skriver:

“The Republican nominee is going to need a track record that speaks to job creation and economic expansion,” says Huntsman, who before heading to Beijing was the governor of Utah, where he was credited with just such achievements. “Romney, good man that he is, didn’t have that record in Massachusetts.” Is Huntsman among those who consider Romney a phony and a flip-flopper? “Look at the record. You know, you show up once, you’re a liberal; you show up the next time, you’re a conservative; you show up the next time, you’re a moderate. It shows a fair amount of recasting and reinventing at a time when people are looking for authenticity.” And Huntsman is more authentically conservative than Romney? “Right. Worked for Reagan when somebody was criticizing him. Pro-life when somebody wasn’t. Pro–­Second Amendment when somebody wasn’t. You can draw your own conclusions.”

Neither Romney nor his aides have yet to utter a harsh word about Huntsman—on the record, that is. But privately, their scorn for him is withering and total. Huntsman’s bid, they say, is a vanity candidacy, with zero logic or rationale behind it. He has no base in the GOP and absolutely no hope of building one; as an Obama appointee seeking to lead a virulently anti-Obama party, he is terminally toxic.

[…]

“They came to prominence as governors in a way that is interesting because they’ve switched personas,” says BYU political-­science professor Quin Monson. “Huntsman was a very conservative governor and then moderated as he got ready to leave office and was looking toward the national stage. Romney did the exact ­opposite: To shake the mold from Massachusetts, he had to portray himself as more conservative.”

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget är New York den 8-15 augusti 2011.

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