Posts Tagged ‘Fred Davis’



GOP Wrap-up: When Blind Men Grope Elephants

Monday, March 15th, 2010

From eMeg’s historic press conference and Dudley Do Right’s abject apology to Hurricane Carly’s Oprah star turn and Stevie Wonder’s  imitation of Attila the Hun, the Republican state convention was 48 hours of pure existential ennui punctuated by a few peak experiences. Here are the weekend highlights and low lights.

eMeg channels Leona – Meg Whitman drew a batch of favorable coverage for finally meeting with reporters, but some of her ditzier comments got lost in the scrum.

For starters, LAT beat man Michael Finnegan asked a tough question about her investments in companies “that profit from the economic hardships that people are undergoing in California.” Her answer was stunningly tone deaf, as she passed on the plight of working people in favor of discussing her investment planning principles:

We obviously have a broad portfolio of investments…you know, everything from normal stocks and bonds to distressed funds…I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of hurting individual people – it’s a smart investment strategy that we employ both or our personal funds as well as for our foundations.

The Commish channels Jerry Brown – Steve Poizner spent the weekend defending himself against press reports and Whitman charges that he’s a late-to-the-party conservative whose record is papered with examples of moderate and liberal stands on which he’s flip-flopped. At one he offered this Jerry Brown-like evolutionary explanation (HT to AP’s Juliet Williams):

Some of my positions have solidified or crystallized, but I was a conservative back then, and I’m a passionate conservative now.

No word yet what “passionate conservatives” evolve into – “knuckle draggers,” perhaps?

Hurricane Carly does Lady Gaga – Carly Fiorina emerged as the star of the show, injecting a much-needed blast of energy into the proceedings Saturday with her Oprah-miked, lady-in-red, slam-speech,  bringing delegates to their feet and walking the talk about why she’d be a tough opponent for Barbara Boxer. Working in the round, she spoke without notes except for a single sheet of paper set atop a stool in her stand-up set-up, and in the process managed to hit a few sour notes.

One came about the 12th time she begged for approval: “Yes, you can applaud,” she said repeatedly, after one of her applause lines had hit the wall. She also offered up the single clunkiest line of the  the weekend when she inexplicably compared her chemo-cut to Boxer’s political longevity:

“The biggest difference between  Barbara Boxer’s Senate career and my hair is that my hair will grow longer.”

No word on what the lesser differences between Boxer’s career and Carly’s hair might be.

Campbell releases his inner Br’er Rabbit – The nominal front-runner in the Senate race has had a miserable couple of weeks, as he’s gotten more and more ensnared with the political tar baby of his past support for jihadist professor Sami Al-Arian. It was just two weeks that Campbell snapped with righteous indignation at the “silent slander” being waged against him by Camp Carly on the issue.

Since then Fiorina manager Julie Soderlund has kept the pressure on, pounding Campbell day after day with fact after fact, forcing him to revise his story about his ties to Al-Arian repeatedly and finally to flat-out apologize at a press conference as the convention got underway on Friday afternoon.

Chuck DeVore briefs the war room - At his Saturday press conference, the Orange County assemblyman and wannabe Senator’s military bearing, crisp presentation and invocation of Sun Tzu underscored his status as an Army Reserve Lt. Colonel; his sharp command of facts about the political terrain of 2010 and the organizational aspect of the GOP Senate race made his case for the chances of a long-shot upset bid for the nomination plausible, if not persuasive.

He admitted he won’t have enough money to do a serious TV buy, but argued that as the Fiorina-Campbell race gets nastier and more personal every day, it’s likely heading for a murder-suicide denounement: “What happens when the rubble clears” he asked Calbuzz rhetorically, then pointed a big thumb to his own chest, with a smile.

Madness in Marketing – Fiorina media consultant Fred Davis deservedly got widespread attention for “Hot Air: The Movie,” his latest break-through-the-clutter web ad, but Team Carly also produced the coolest souvenir of the weekend – a postcard size hologram in which Campbell morphs into the Demon Sheep then turns back into Dudley. The late night guerrilla teams that slipped it under the doors of reporters added a whiff of mystery to the enterprising hit piece.

Best performance by a non-combatant in a supporting role – Aaron McLear, Gov. Schwarzmuscle’s spokesflack, aimed a strong counterpunch to eMeg’s pie hole, after Whitman had opined to reporters that all in all, Arnold’s administration had been pretty lame.

While it’s nice to see Ms. Whitman finally talking to reporters, it would be even better if her comments were based in reality.

Poizner does schtick – Amid a logorrheic torrent of talking points at his press conference, Poizner’s best line was a quick, unplanned quip that came in response to a reporter informing him that Whitman had said she’d voted for him when he ran for the Assembly in 2004. “I can predict that Meg Whitman is going to vote for me again in November 2010,” he said without missing a beat.

eMeg does schtick - Her Megness matched Poizner one-liner for one-liner, when she snapped an answer to a question about her rival’s political record:

There’s one liberal Republican in this race, and it’s not me.

How Republicans are like Crusaders – The parade of party members who delivered invocations before every big event uniformly took as their point of prayerful departure the assumption that God is clearly playing for the GOP squad, as this example from Saturday’s lunch illustrates:

Lord…we humbly ask You to expand the Republican territory.

And maybe put a little oil underneath while you’re at it, Sir.

Mitt Romney morphs into Andrew Dice Clay - Romney’s hard-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside intro of Meg just before her limelight gig was bad enough, but he preceded it with a dumb anecdote set at the 2008 Summer Olympics, where, he said with a leer, he’d paid close attention to his favorite sport – “women’s beach volleyball.” Heh, heh.

Why the media gets a bad rap – The worst press question of the weekend came from the middle of the scrum around eMeg on Friday, when some unidentified knucklehead asked the candidate, who’s a long way from even winning her party’s nomination this clunker:

Would you commit to serving a full four year term if you’re elected governor? There’s been talk about you as a national political figure.

Even Her Megness had a big laugh at that one.

GOP Extra II: New Boffo Hit By Demon Sheep Auteur

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Cue the dancing bears: Wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina rolled out a full-throttle, multi-media extravaganza for her turn in the limelight Saturday, the Republican state convention’s most boffo box office so far.

Taking full advantage of her scheduled time on the convention program, Team Carly essentially relaunched her campaign, with a production that included music by Van Halen, a free-swinging speech delivered by the candidate channeling Miss Scarlet, and a new, mad genius video by gonzo media consultant Fred Davis.

“We call it the announcement on steroids,” Davis told Calbuzz.

In contrast to Meg Whitman, whose Friday night speech to delegates may be found in the dictionary under “somnolent,” Fiorina’s talk was energetic, punchy and well-crafted.

Wielding a hand mike, she paced a small stage erected in the middle of an audience of 500, wearing a bright red pencil skirt and matching ruffled jacket as she punctuated a rip job attack on Barbara Boxer with steady chops of her left hand (NB: Opposed on principle to all forms of sexism, Calbuzz mentions her wardrobe choice solely as a contextual element in describing the production values of her convention appearance).

Assailing Boxer on issues from abortion to the Delta smelt and the 1992 House banking scandal, and never mentioning her primary rivals, Hurricane Carly insisted she is the only Republican who can defeat the 18-year incumbent.

She portrayed Boxer as a narcissistic, ineffective captive of Democratic special interests, from unions to “radical environmentalists,” as she generated the only spontaneous enthusiasm in the room thus far in the convention (not counting the boos when GOP moderate Sen. Abel Maldonado was introduced).

“Isn’t it ironic that Barbara Boxer would work so hard to protect a two-inch fish, but not lift a finger to protect the unborn,” she said at one point.

“Bring ‘em on,” she thundered at another, after cataloging liberal special interests that will fight to defend the incumbent.

All the fiery rhetoric aside, and notwithstanding the full ear blast of Van Halen’s “Jump” which closed the Hurricane’s star turn, the highlight of her coming out act was “Hot Air: The Movie,” a 7 minute-30 second acid flashback web video produced by Davis, the auteur of Fiorina’s now-infamous “Demon Sheep” ad attacking GOP foe Tom Campbell as an ersatz conservative.

“I thought of (Boxer’s) head inflating, getting bigger and bigger, until it burst through the top of the Capitol,” Davis said by way explanation of his latest oevre, which must be seen to be genuinely appreciated.

This just in: The “Tea Party Rally,” which promised a big blast of  anti-government populist anger, turned out to be a big bust, a bunch of standing around by maybe 150 people, most of them appearing to be guys named Eugene who formerly populated the high school radio club.

BTW, the NYT’s Kate Zernike has an excellent takeout on why the movement is focused on economics to the near exclusion of traditionally right-wing social issues.

Overheard: “It’s very important for us not to peak too soon.”
–A spinner for wannabe governor Steve Poizner, tongue firmly in cheek, to a gaggle of wretched ink-stained types.

Old conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election and won’t even talk to reporters.

New Conventional wisdom: Meg Whitman is a super-wealthy political novice who’s trying to buy the election but who talks to reporters.

We read this stuff so you don’t have to: The Calbuzz Press Clips scores are in for next day coverage of eMeg’s surprise press session on Friday, which yielded the most information to date on where she stands on a host of substantive policy issues:

Chroniclers Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli had the best bullet-point overview (from policy to politics), while Jack Chang at the Bee produced the most detailed piece on where she stands on pension reform (which should have public employees waking up in a cold sweat and SEIU leaders going deeper into their wallets on behalf of Jerry Brown), as Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star breaks it down on Whitman’s stance on illegal immigration, which is considerably less hardcore, or more compassionate, depending on how you look at it.

Update 9:30 p.m. Steve Poizner Saturday night followed Franklin Roosevelt’s famous dictum for public speaking: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

In his big dinner speech to the delegates, The Commish spoke for just under 10 minutes, after a strong videotaped endorsement (“We can’t afford Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third term”) from right-wing Rep. Tom McClintock, a California conservative favorite. By contrast, Friday night had the feel of an expansive “evening with Meg Whitman,” as she spoke for about 30 minutes with the use of a teleprompter, preceded by a formal introduction by Mitt Romney and followed by a way-long phony “conversation” with conservative talk show host Eric Hogue tossing softballs to eMeg and Mitt, who sat perched on stools on the stage.

It was hard to avoid the notion that eMeg’s expanded time slot was somehow related to the $250,000 she donated to the state GOP last year, but Poizner, pacing the stage as he spoke without notes or a podium, made the most of his opportunity.

Although he’ll never be confused as an orator with Barack Obama, he delivered a crisp statement of the criteria for his candidacy and clearly framed the distinctions between Her Megness and himself , declaiming on the virtues of “individual liberty…personal responsibility…free markets (and) smaller, more accountable government.”

“As Tom McClintock said, there’s a big battle going on right now for the heart and soul of the Republican party. There’s basically two camps. One camp wants to re-brand; one camp wants to move the Republican party to the center; one camp wants to reposition the Republican party. I just couldn’t disagree with that more.”

10* of the Top Quotes of the Week in CA Politics

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

From The Commish taking a big swing at eMeg to Hurricane Carly aiming a low blow at the the sheepish Dudley Do Right, this week easily scored as the most entertaining to date of 2010, simply because of the surfeit of great quotes flying across the internets. Here are 10 of the best things anybody said about California politics. [Make it to the end for the contest challenge.]

1-”Usually that sort of thing occurs in a one-on-one conversation. It takes a true imbecile to put it in writing.
– Former federal prosecutor Donald Heller offering a lawman’s perspective on eMeg strategist Mike Murphy’s ham-handed effort to force Steve Poizner from the governor’s race.

2-“Part of this is politics.”
– Michael Semler, Sac State political science professor with a lofty thought about the Poizner-Whitman political extortion clash. Ya think?

3-“There are some things that sound easy, but you might as well send somebody a get well card.”
– Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting Hallmark is to be preferred over trying to pass health care reform in pieces.

4-“My goal is to get things noticed.”
– Fred Davis, guerrilla ad man for Hurricane Carly Fiorina, on the viral sensation of his Demon Sheep ad attacking Tom Campbell..

5-If she emerges from the primary she’ll find that California voters of all parties will reject her brand of strong-arm politics.”
– An unctuous John Burton, who would disembowel relatives just for saying the word “Republican,” objects to Meg Whitman’s brand of campaigning.

6-“Kamala Harris opposes the death penalty. In fact, she refused to seek the death penalty even for a convicted cop-killer. She also refused the death penalty for an illegal immigrant gang member who murdered an entire family. This murderer was on the streets only because Harris had released him when he was arrested a few weeks earlier. And he was able to stay in San Francisco despite being arrested because Harris opposes deporting illegal immigrants, even after they commit violent crimes.
“She also created a program that trains illegal immigrants for jobs in the U.S. One illegal immigrant from her program robbed and then tried to murder his victim.”
– Description of San Francisco D.A. and Democrat attorney general wannabe Kamala Harris from poll question by primary rival, Assemblyman Ted Lieu. We think they were testing her negatives.

7- ‘Let’s say what we mean, mean what we say.”
– Meg Whitman, in her new TV ad, which she was forced to change after being caught exaggerating about how long she’s lived in California.

8- “I think some of these Neanderthals, is what I’d have to call them, who want to turn the clock backwards, don’t fully understand the job-creation potential that AB32 and our climate-change laws in California will be able to stimulate . . .
– Undeclared Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown, talking about his soon-to-be-formal GOP opponents on KGO Radio.

9-“No matter where you go in the world, people still want to come to California. There’s no one screaming, like, ‘I can’t wait to get to Iowa.
– The diplomatic Gov. Schwarzmuscle, endearing himself to folks in the Hawkeye State.

10-“After reading the ridiculous charges made by Steve Poizner during today’s strange press conference, all I can say is that I’m starting to worry about the Commissioner’s mental condition.”
– Meg Whitman senior adviser Mike Murphy responding to charges that he tried to extort Poizner out of the governor’s race (see #1 above)

* We lied. Here’s one more quote we couldn’t resist:

“Our campaign will forever be a demon sheep free zone.”
– Chuck DeVore, trying to raise money off Carly’s awful ad.

CONTEST HERE! To the Calbuzzer who posts an even better quote than the ones we have here before Monday — two coveted Calbuzz buttons! Totally arbitrary judging by Dr. P.J. Hackenflack.