Yesterday was the blow back day. The talk shows were awash with Fung supporters trying to paint the opposition. It is expected. They need to get the public to see me as (evil, unworthy, an opportunist or whatever will stick). The nerve has been hit.
If they can attack me personally, they can make me the subject of the race instead of my message of getting the power to the people. I cannot get drawn into that battle. The idea is not to ignore it, but to speak to it and return to message.
This is the most critical time in the campaign. If they succeed in labeling me, then I will be forever fighting their campaign on their terms. It is true that you must set the issues in the campaign and never let your opposition create your agenda.
The powers that be seem to be aligning. There are those spreading the word that the whole campaign was somehow a conspiracy by Ken Block to avenge his loss to Fung in the Republican primary. This is completely untrue, but if they spin it, it might hit some folks.
Truth is that Ken Block and I have not spoken for months. The truth is that the current Moderate Party is comprised of followers of the old Block movement and, quite frankly, were extremely disappointed with the bolting of Block. I doubt that there is any conspiracy, and I know that I had no role whatsoever in one. There is a possibility that I am an unwitting pawn in this, but I trust in the integrity of James Spooner, the candidate I replaced, and so I cannot let this be a worry to me. Let them spend their time exploring the conspiracy in that it will be less time they can spend on other matters.
The detractors are searching and will try to get some idea to stick. My plan is to let them throw. It works two ways. First, it will show me the extent of their ability and it will either kill me or make me stronger.
The Fung campaign has followed a traditional route on this. They have used their Republican tools to create the diversion. Justin Katz, a political commentator with some ability as well as a paid loyalty to right wing (i.e. Republican based media), has been charged with making the Fung argument. Katz is a most able writer with a good grasp on numbers. Still, his employer is well aligned with the Republican stalwarts. The minor lesson here from the traditionalist playbook is that if you are going to throw dirt, get an operative to do it. I personally disagree with this, preferring to throw my own dirt and not care how it looks.
LESSON FIVE: Every action has a reaction. After a strong day, expect a return volley. There are few times when campaign handlers can sit still. Remember this in that there is use for such when it proves to your advantage. Learn how they react. This gives you insight as to how they are organized and what you can expect as their reaction when you hit the target and put some pressure on their campaign.
To counter the Fung allegations of conspiracy with Block, the intention is to simply issue a reply. In this case, I will be issuing an notarized affidavit in which I will swear to the truth of my knowledge. It is a beautiful opportunity in that they are pursuing a matter that is completely false. By using the affidavit, they have empowered my campaign in that I will, at some future point, call on them to provide one on a topic of my choice.
The Raimondo camp is still circling the wagons, which is probably a good strategy. Their candidate is safe from the fray, was not initially hurt by the first salvo. They want to take the time since they do not have to come out swinging If they stay silent too long, they will risk growing irrelevant to some of the debate but they will weigh this against the what can be gained by entering into a battle. This could prove good for my campaign in that they will atrophy and when they are the target they will be less of a force in the battle.
The clear attack point against the Raimondo campaign is whether Rhode Islanders want a venture capitalist in the Governor’s office. There are three more issues in the future, but the groundwork needs to be laid to have her commit to her venture capitalist past (which she has little choice but to acknowledge – although her smarter move would be to rely on her term as the General Treasurer). It doesn’t matter which direction she chooses. The idea is to get her to clearly choose one path so that it narrows her escape routes when it is time to engage her.
Raimondo’s people are pushing the positives, as they should. They will rely, possibly too heavily, on the first woman governor concept. It plays and is positive. But an over-reliance on this could prove detrimental in that people are just downright tired of the first this or the first that. Still, it has some resonance in the population that you are the first of. It is not the best reason to vote for someone, but it is a powerful tool.
The next few days should be to guardedly let the media play out. Many would think this is the time to continue with the inertia and hit hard on campaign issues. The consumers of news do not digest news too well. Slow feeding is preferred in that it allows for the entire issue to pass the news cycle without confusion. The strategic use of new news is to put it into a news cycle to confuse when your message is not being treated well.
While the news is still swinging your way, take the time to read and compose. A full knowledge of the issues will give you confidence in debates. Take a look at upcoming events and make yourself available. For example, know when there are debates and public forums. Put them on the calendar even if you were not invited so that you do not double schedule. If you are called at the last minute, you will be available and ready. If you are a new candidate, focus on your exclusion. In this election, my years of history will give me the advantage in that I will be conspicuously absent if not invited. The idea is to politely request participation and let the public determine how “fair” the debate presenters are. Being excluded from a debate, especially when people are ready to evaluate you, could prove far more advantageous.
Last night I violated one of my rules. I was out for dinner with my business partner and took a call related to the campaign. I sounded horrible in that I was not up to speed on the conversation and seemed to be floundering. I guess I could have begged off from the interview but that would pass on an opportunity as well as creating some lie. Both are not acceptable and so I trudged through.
It reminded me that on the campaign, one must remain focused and, like a good scout, always be prepared. I wasn’t. I re-instilled in me the idea that one bad move can destroy what you are attempting to build. Keep your eyes on the prize.
This reminds me of another lesson learned very early. Sometimes you need to play opossum. Keep in your mind that sometimes less is more.
LESSON SIX: At times you can allow yourself to minimize an issue that you know quite a bit about. The opposition will see it as a weakness and make an attack to which you can overly defend. It is baiting them into your argument. Similarly, never shoot all in the first round. In politics, there is the initial salvo which will inevitably be returned. If you have shot your load, you will be responding on their terms. If you still have more, new information to add to the issue, you can choose to address their allegations or to provide a new issue as the reply. Don’t get cornered and don’t let your opponent frame the issue.
Finally, it is important to remember you are not in a two way race. Two way races are easy in that it allows for the pitting of the two sides of the issue. A three way there are several positions in the grey and that can be exploited, especially where the others have committed themselves to one side or the other to pick up campaign funds or support. They are limited in their ability to fashion a correct solution to the problems (assuming they want to solve the problem in that solving it means they will lose their funding sources or supporters). Conversely, you are unlimited and can actually propose solutions. Use this to your advantage, always.