Saturday, November 08, 2008

How he did it

According to the New York Times, anyway.

I really enjoyed reading this article about how the Obama team ran his campaign, all the way back from his race in the Democratic primaries, through the general election campaign against McCain. From the article:
“It was perfectly run; it made few mistakes,” Mr. Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s strategist, said of the Obama campaign.
This is the beginning of the piece:
It was the third week of September, and Senator John McCain was speaking to a nearly empty convention center in Jacksonville, Fla. Lehman Brothers had collapsed that day, a harrowing indicator of the coming financial crisis and a reminder that the presidential campaign was turning into a referendum on which candidate could best address the nation’s economic challenges.

On stage, Mr. McCain, of Arizona, was trying to show concern for the prospect of hardship but also optimism about the country’s resilience.

“The fundamentals of the economy are strong,” he said.

A thousand miles away, at Senator Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, the aides who monitored Mr. McCain’s every utterance knew immediately that they had just heard a potential turning point in a race that seemed to be tightening. They rushed out to tell Dan Pfeiffer, Mr. Obama’s communications director, what Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate, had just said, knowing that his words could be used to portray him as out of touch.

“Shut up!” Mr. Pfeiffer said incredulously. “He said what?” Mr. Obama, who had just arrived at a rally in Colorado, hastily inserted the comments into his speech. And by nightfall, the Obama campaign had produced an advertisement that included video of Mr. McCain making the statement that would shadow him for the rest of the campaign.

At the McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., at almost the same moment that morning, Mr. McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, looked stricken when his war room alerted him to the comment. Within 30 minutes, he was headed for a flight to Florida to join Mr. McCain as they began a frantic and ultimately unsuccessful effort to recover.
It's a really interesting story, and brings back not only a lot of memories (remember the grueling race against Clinton? The days before Palin?), but also provides a lot of insight into the inner workings of the campaign, along with how Obama ran things. These sections are particularly telling, especially as Obama once said, "How you campaign shows how you will govern" (or something like that -- I'm paraphrasing something he said when questioned over whether McCain's negativity and lurching messages on the campaign trail were just part of the politics of campaigning, and not indicative of McCain's governing style).

I recommend you give it a read; it's a bit long, but engaging.

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