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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Roberts’



Fishwrap: This Just In from Krusty, eMeg & Babs

Friday, July 9th, 2010

We wish we’d said that: Calbuzz felt verdant with envy at reading the nice perceptual scoop that Christiana Bellantoni posted on Talking Points Memo, which drew a parallel between the strategy and tactics of Meg Whitman’s zillion dollar campaign for governor and Barack Obama’s technologically groundbreaking operation in 2008.

Yeah, yeah, we know eMeg ain’t exactly in Obama’s class when it comes to public speaking, much preferring a crisp three-bullet Power Point approach when it comes to world class oratory; nor do we see too many folks fainting or leaping from their chairs to shout “Fired up – ready to go” when Her Megness hits the closing chords of the eight millionth delivery of her somnolent stump speech.

But Bellantoni’s yarn (graphic stolen shamelessly from TPM) –  “Meg Whitman Copies ‘Obama Playbook’ in Pursuit of her California Dreams” — did a swell job of finding a story hiding in plain sight. She drew together strands of reporting about the mechanics of the Whitman operation that have been produced, variously, by Ken McLaughlin, Jack Chang and, uh, us into an analysis of the race that casts eMeg as the high-tech candidate of change and Jerry Brown as, well, John McCain.

The Democratic take on Whitman being a 2010 version of Barack Obama? “In her dreams,” they say. And of course, much of Obama’s success had to do with the candidate’s own popularity and appeal. Obama was a young, African-American senator who represented generational change and used technology to mass finance much of his campaign. Whitman is a middle-aged former tech CEO who’s already self-financed her campaign to the tune of almost $100 million. But plenty of the building blocks and strategies of the Obama ’08 effort can be copied. And Whitman seems to be trying to duplicate pretty much all of them.

Krusty McCain: Her Obama-McCain take, while flawed, certainly resonated on Thursday, when Team Whitman rolled out a big new Spanish language outdoor advertising program to keep pressing her aggressive bid for Latino voters, while Brown responded by surrounding himself with a bunch of Hispanic pols and hacks who complained that she’s shading the truth about her stance on illegal immigration.

Sample remark, from U.S. Rep Xavier Becerra: “Jerry Brown broke bread with Cesar Chavez.  His opponent breaks bread with Pete Wilson [aka in Mexico City 1999 "Hijo de Puta"]

“Leaders are quite chagrined and shocked at the way the Whitman campaign can say one thing in English which is very hostile to the Latino community and then take out billboards and ads and make it sound like she was fighting Pete Wilson and Prop. 187 when in truth she wasn’t even here in the state of California,” Brown said.

Brown does have a point about eMeg’s claim that she opposed Prop. 187, seeing as how she lived in Massachusetts when the measure was on the ballot, wasn’t even a voter and has since agreed with fundamental aspects of it, to wit: Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education.

But hey, despite her casual relationship with true facts, at least she’s reaching out to Latinos. We’re still waiting to see Brown actually break a sweat in search of Latino votes.

He hit me, he hit me: Since the start of the World Cup, Slate has been running a terrific feature called “Dive of the Day,” which presents video of the top flop by a player who falls to the ground in fake distress,  taking the slightest hint of contact as an opportunity to roll around, grab his limbs and contort his face in horror, all in an  effort to convince the ref he’s been fouled. (Good examples are herehere and here ).

As Dave Eggers wonderfully described it, diving is:

…essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds….Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It’s disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.

The melodramatic element of diving, in particular, came to mind when we received a communiqué from Her Megness, complaining that Jerry Brown and his allies were spending too much money on TV ads that are unkind to her.

Whitman media buyer Kyle Roberts sent a memo to campaign reporters whining about the sheer unfairness of it all:

Jerry Brown Incorporated continues its spending on attack ads against the Meg Whitman for Governor Campaign. To date, Jerry Brown Inc. which consists of union backed California Working Families, Level the Playing Field, the California Democratic Party and Jerry Brown 2010 have spent $6.6 million in advertising on broadcast, cable TV and radio. Of the $6.6 million, approximately $1 million has been spent on positive (pro-Jerry Brown ads) leaving $5.6 million in negative attack ads.

…it is quite clear that if Jerry Brown Inc. continues to double its spending and attack Meg Whitman at this level, it will be necessary for Meg Whitman to continue to defend herself from these attacks in order to ensure a competitive position for the General Election.

The mind boggles.

Putting aside the facts that 1) eMEg spends $5.6 million before lunch and 2) she went on the air for about 12 seconds with a positive spot before starting to air an anti-Brown ad portraying him as a cross between Jerry Rubin and Jerry Garcia, the sheer audacity of a) Team eMeg unctuously complaining about someone else’s spending on TV ads and b) gussying up their complaint to justify even more – “Well, I guess we have no choice but to throw another $100 million in the pot, Mike” – would be breathtaking, if it wasn’t so hilarious.

The refs say: No foul. Get up and keep playin’, Meg.

And don’t call me chief! Senator Barbara Boxer has been beaten up for over a year for the infamous You Tube moment when she upbraided Brigadier General Michael Walsh in the course of a hearing before her Environment and Public Works Committee for addressing her as “ma’am” rather than as “Senator.”

By now, Boxer’s huffy snit of petty arrogance has become an iconic image for her legions of political enemies, who find in the brief exchange with General Walsh personification of all the condescending,  Chardonnay liberal elitist values which they can’t abide.

Given that we’ve mentioned the episode, oh, once or twice, we thought it only sporting that, given a chance to talk to her the other night, we should ask her the key question that’s so long troubled us about the matter: WTF was that all about ?

Our query came at the end of a long  campaign day for Boxer and, when we raised it, she shot a hard look, as if calculating how quickly she could kick open the door of the van and push us out, somersaulting along the highway at a high rate of speed. To her credit, she quickly suppressed any sign of crankiness and offered this explanation:

I really wasn’t trying to make a point. We were going back and forth in the hearing, and I was calling him “General” and he was calling me “ma’am” and I just thought we should both use our formal titles.

For the record, Boxer also said she called Walsh after the hearing to check in and he told her, no worries. So there you have it, exclusive to Calbuzz.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lindsay Lohan channels Clarence Darrow.

IE Hit on eMeg Targets Indie Voters, Not Poizner

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

When “Level the Playing Field 2010” – the Democratic, pro-Jerry Brown independent campaign committee – launched their first ads against Meg Whitman, the Armies of eMeg immediately accused the group of  meddling in the Republican primary race for governor in a bid to help Steve Poizner.

Team Whitman pointed as precedent to the ad campaign run by the Gray Davis’s consultants against former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan starting in January 2002. That attack helped cause Riordan’s support to collapse in the GOP primary, leaving Davis facing a weaker general election candidate in conservative businessman Bill Simon.

The argument now, from communications director Tucker Bounds and others in eMeg’s camp, is that the Brown-for-governor Democrats would rather face Poizner in November, so are trying to knock eMeg out, as Davis did to Riordan.

“Clearly, Team Brown not only prefers to run against Steve Poizner in the general election, but is taking steps to achieve that with a radio buy targeting Republican primary voters,” Bounds said in an email to reporters.

But the argument is bogus, based on a false premise that has become false conventional wisdom: that  Davis strategists Garry South, David Doak and Paul Maslin set out in 2002 to take Riordan out of the GOP primary. That’s not what they aimed to do. And it’s not what the “Level the Playing Field” guys are trying to do today

The goal of the anti-Meg campaign (as it was for Davis’s people in 2002) is to increase negative perceptions – especially among conservative Democrats and moderate independents – toward the candidate they expect to face in the fall. In this case: Meg Whitman. It has nothing to do with Poizner, really. If they help him, so much the better, from their point of view. But that’s not the design.

In the December 2001 Field Poll, Gov. Gray Davis’s favorability was 42% positive and 47% negative. Riordan’s was 39% positive and just 24% negative. Worse for Davis, Riordan’s favorability was 32-31% among Democrats and 34-18% among independents. Riordan was so far ahead in the primary that South and the others had no doubt they’d be facing Riordan in the general election. They had to begin cutting Democrats and independents away from Riordan’s base.

Which is why they attacked him from the LEFT, with devastating ads showing Riordan himself calling abortion “murder” and pointing out that while he was calling himself pro-choice, he’d given serious money to anti-abortion causes.

Unlike the “Level the Playing Field” forces, however, who have launched with a puny little radio buy, Davis unloaded on Riordan with $9 million on TV in five weeks. Actually, they were about to take down the ads when Maslin found that the ads – originally designed to hurt Riordan with Democrats and independents – were also hurting him with Republicans, who began to see him as a weasel. So they kept the ads up and Riordan’s GOP support cratered.

Today, Meg Whitman’s overall favorability is 25% positive and 20% negative in the January Field Poll. It’s 34-8% among Republicans and only 16-31% among Democrats. But it’s 27-13% among independents – about 2-1 positive – and that’s what the pro-Brown forces now want to alter.

The initial strike against Meg – in their opening 30-second spot that was designed mostly to grab some media attention – charged Whitman has “taken the side of the corporate special interests who want to roll back California’s bi-partisan law fighting global warming.”

And the Level 2010 web site includes a link to a Calbuzz analysis explaining why Whitman injected the environment as an issue in the governor’s race and how she had made a strategic mistake by assailing AB 32, California’s pioneering greenhouse gas reduction law.

In short, the opening shot at eMeg was, as with Davis and Riordan, from the left. And the ensuing 60-second spot – with its argument that she won’t debate, won’t release her tax returns and won’t explain her income and bonuses at eBay, plus the charge that she billed shareholders for use of her corporate jet – seems more aimed at independents than it does Republicans.

Kyle Roberts of Smart Media Group, eMeg’s media consultants, argued in a campaign memo that the initial radio buy was aimed at Republican listeners in Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco in a campaign “designed to target and persuade Republicans during their primary election.”

Well, Kyle, that might be a side benefit. But the real goal here is to take Meg down a notch or two among those independents and Democrats who – for now — think she’s OK.

“They’re coming at her from the left, which isn’t a strategy to get Poizner as a nominee,” said South. “They’re assuming Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee just like we assumed Riordan was going to be the nominee.”

What Level the Playing Field 2010 doesn’t have is what the Davis campaign team had in January 2002 when they threw down $9 million and bet the farm on early advertising against the guy they thought they’d be facing in November: a big budget and brass balls.

[Posted 12:01 am; updated 5:25 am]