Day Three of President-Elect Obama’s Re-Election Campaign

7 11 2008

Martin Moleski

History was made and the world seems to be pretty pleased that Americans selected Barack Obama as our next president. I have to give credit when credit is due, and he ran a near flawless campaign. Although he faced many hurdles, his campaign never lost focus of the end result; making sure he got to 270 electoral votes. If there was ever an appropriate time for a “Mission Accomplished” banner, it should have been displayed at Grant Park on Tuesday night (I like to imagine the campaign staff argued over whether they should put 60 American flags, multiple Greek columns or the banner behind him).

So now that Obama is just 74 days away until his historic inauguration, I’m actually more focused on the 750+ days or so from now when the Republicans try to get back into the White House. As I scanned the headlines this morning here is what I saw:

  • Dow down 900+ points since Obama elected
  • Jobless rate jumps to 14 year high
  • Ford plans more cuts after $129 million loss
  • Obama faces Cold War threat, warning from Israel

Not the best situation to be entering. My point here is that everything, EVERYTHING, President-Elect Obama does from today moving forward can be used against him in 2012. He needs to understand, if he wants to be re-elected, that his administration must be a continuation of his campaign. He can never stop campaigning. Every interview, statement, back room conversation, Joe Biden gaffe, cabinet position pick, legislation signed, etc. will be scrutinized and most likely used against him. He better be sure he picks the right kind of dog for his kids, too.

Remember, his campaign started in February of 2007. It won’t be long before it all starts again. My instincts tell me that he will be “Fired up….and Ready to Go.”

* Personal plea to President-Elect Obama: If you want to win Ohio again in 2012, please bring some of your change mojo to the Browns defense. They are awful.


Within the Din: Get your message to your constituents

28 10 2008

Given the nature of this political season, messages from elected officials and wanna-be elected officials has become a steady blur, especially for those of us in the swing state of Ohio.  Every major network TV station and radio station is now an endless barrage of “Vote For Me” messages.  Frankly, I very much look forward to the election being over so we can back to commercials for beer, really bad car dealerships, and the inevitable “personal care” products. No, I do not have painful burning, itching and swelling, but thank you for running a thirty second ad to tell me what to do when this does happen!

It is under the environment of endless political talk that I am reminded, once again, how critically important it is for elected officials to Get Your Message Out!  Communications technology has changed dramitically over the past decade. E-mail, internet sites, blogs, webinars, Twitter, You Tube and endless other vehicles of electronic communication have made the basic land-line phone call just another tool of communication. Public officials must communicate with their core constituents, and in the manners that work for them, not for you. It is no longer acceptable to simply call a meeting at City.Village Hall and 1) Expect people to know the meeting is scheduled, and 2) To expect busy people to show up. You must reach out to your community in the broadest fashion to ensure you have an informed audience.  Get your message out!  Let people know what their government is doing, and the successes and challenges your community faces.  Sure, municipal business still must have public meetings for decion-making, but your constituents need to hear from you much more often. 

A great example of this level of communication has been the outreach efforts by the leaders of the Regional Economic Revenue Study (RERS).  RERS is an initiative of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association to enhance economic development across the region through a region-wide land use planning and new growth revenue sharing program.  Lead by Hudson Mayor William A. Currin, Pepper Pike Mayor Bruce H. Akers, and Richfield Village Mayor Mike Lyons, this initiative has now reached the public outreach phase. RERS leaders, including Kerry Smith, Don Polyak and Tom Speaks of The Impact Group, have been hosting and faciliating presentations across the region to get the word out.  This effort inludes e-mails to elected officials, inviation letters through traditional snail mail, phone calls to key stakeholders, press releases, and a website for more information ( Further, RERS is highlighted by our funding partners The Fund for Our Economic Future and Advanced Northeast Ohio. It is only through the combined effort of all these communications we are able to then sit knee-to-knee with a broad range of key constituents to get the word out. We are reaching them in the manner they best respond, not in the manner easiest or fastest for us. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive, with a highly-engaged audience learning of this important initiative.  The RERS presentations contain the phrase: “Be informed, Get On Board!”  This message is only possible through effective outreach and communication.

RERS has been featured in several newspaper articles across the region, and live on PBS 45-49 as well as the Dan Rivers show on WKBN in Mahoning Valley.  Through a sustained and consistent messaging campaign, the RERS initiative continues to grow in awareness and support.  Is YOUR message getting across effectively?? Or, is the idle banter in coffee shops and hair salons still the communication method in your town?  Better think about it!  Residents and business owners receive a deafening din of communication in this 24/7 news world. Your message needs to rise above in order to be heard. Let your constituents know you want them to “Be informed, Get On Board!”

Let me know how YOU communicate today!


“Pooliticizing” on the streets of California

24 10 2008

In light of the upcoming election, I thought I would discuss the grassroot politicizing that has begun to creep into the advertising mainstream. One “movement” in particular caught my eye as both disturbing and creative. Venice artist, designer and activist Greg Beauchamp decided to take to the streets adorning dog feces with his opinions of John McCain’s proposed policies on the economy,  foreign policy  and how he feels about McCain’s campaign tactics.

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

Greg Beauchamp - Political Opinion

I won’t argue with the creative, albeit unconventional, method Beauchamp chose to get his feelings across to the general public. As a matter of fact, I audibly laughed when I first saw the image of a little pile of dog poo with a mini sign in it.

After I stopped laughing, I realized his method proves nothing but the fact that there are stinky political extremists on both sides. Beauchamp chose to stoop to a new low in political advertising, and however ingenious the idea may be, I find it to be irresponsible both from an environmental and a political standpoint.

From an environmental standpoint he chose to litter the public sidewalks. Some could also argue that his advertising method would encourage others to leave their dog poo behind in hopes that it would be used for future “pooliticizing,” leading to an even larger and potentially stinkier problem. The political standpoint is obvious. Both camps have had their fair share of low jabs, either directly from their camps or from the extremists that have taken to the streets in support of their candidate. This kind of behavior only encourages more of the same from the other camp.

As a designer, I always enjoy out-of-the-box creativity, but this may have gone just a little too far outside of the box for me. After my initial reaction, I was a little disgusted.

What do you think?

Click here to view more pictures of Greg Beauchamp’s “pooliticizing”

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

Should Candidates be Citing Blogs on their Mailers?

22 10 2008

Martin Moleski

This post will hopefully fire up some of the most active bloggers out there. You know, the political junkies like me who follow campaigns year-round and analyze every lit piece with a watchful eye? One increasing trend that I have noticed this election year is citing blog posts to back up accusations for or against a candidate, which led me to ask the question seen in the headline.

Rest assured there are some great political blogs out there. Both Republican and Democratic blogs attract a unique fan base and often take up way too much of my time. I frequently read The Point, a bi-partisan blog run by Kyle Kutuchief of the ChiefSource and Ben Keeler of the Keeler Political Report regarding issues that affect Northeast Ohio. I also frequent other blogs like NaugBlog, Buckeye State Blog, Ohio Daily Blog , Red State and Each blog offers insight into the bloggers’ ideologies and discuss important local and state issues that I often can’t find in the mainstream media. Most importantly, they occasionally allow me to vent some of my own frustrations with the political process.

By 2004 the impact of blogging on the political process was very apparent as local, state and national candidates hired bloggers to keep the masses aware of what was happening on the campaign trail. The bloggers often had inside information that the mainstream media could never have access to and could post information faster without having the filter of the mainstream media holding them back. In addition, most bloggers don’t/won’t name sources, meaning campaigns staffers are more willing to talk openly and honestly with them.  Perhaps this important distinction could have been the difference in Matt Naugle of NaugBlog breaking the Marc Dann sexual harassment scandal instead of the Columbus Dispatch or another major newspaper.

So, there is no need to debate the importance of blogs, nor their influence on the political process. What concerns me is the amount of freedom and lack of accountability when information posted on blogs is used on political mailers or flyers. The way I see it, I could post untruthful or misleading information on a blog about any particular candidate, and his/her opposition could cite that information without really needing to verify the information. The detrimental effect of this, of course, comes when there is not sufficient time to challenge the untruthful statement.

It would be interesting to know if the Ohio Elections Commission has discussed any rules on whether or not information posted on blogs can be used in campaign materials.  My relatively quick search found no such rules in place. Please, share your thoughts.

Don’t Listen to the Mainstream Media, We Are Only 20 Days Away from the Election

10 09 2008

Martin Moleski

You may be asking yourself, “Twenty days? November 4, Election Day, is 50 plus days away.” Well, you are right. But perhaps you are not thinking about the estimated 70,000 voters – in Summit County, Ohio alone – who will cast absentee ballots beginning September 30. That’s right, 70,000 people (20% of the voters) who, right now, are researching the candidates in their respective area so when early voting starts they will be the first to cast their votes.

Ohioans like to vote absentee for many reasons:

  • No waiting in lines on Election Day
  • Take the time to research each candidate or issue on the ballot from home
  • Be at home when all those who promise to move to Canada when their candidate loses start hitting the road

So what is your campaign doing to influence these voters? As a campaign manager, I love absentee voters. I’m talking about the people who I know, for certain, are going to vote. Not only that, I can actually target them with a mailer or letter the day their absentee ballot arrives in the mail. Talk about making a last minute impression!

The truth of campaigns is that candidates like to crescendo at the end when voters are paying attention. This is especially true – and critical – in municipal races. But if you don’t have a game plan to reach the absentee voters, prepare to be disappointed on the real Election Day.

A House Divided…

18 08 2008

Martin Moleski

I read one of the most fascinating presidential campaign articles this past week. Having worked on many different kinds of campaigns, I do my best to pay attention to how the presidential campaigns are running, examine what is/is not working and offer my analysis to anyone who will hear it. That mostly falls on my brother and one of our graphic designers, both of whom are ready for “Change We Can Believe In.” I’ll get back to that in a moment. First…the aforementioned article.

It's YOUR fault!!

It's YOUR fault!!

Joshua Green of the Atlantic gives the best insight, so far, into the fall of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The article starts with this devastating paragraph:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was undone by a clash of personalities more toxic than anyone imagined. E-mails and memos—published here for the first time—reveal the backstabbing and conflicting strategies that produced an epic meltdown.

How can you not keep reading? The e-mails and memos show a campaign in chaos that failed on multiple fronts. First, the Clinton campaign failed to establish a unifying message that eventually tore the campaign staff into two conflicting teams. Second, the campaign did not prepare for a primary season that lasted until June 3 and ignored warnings that Clinton would be unable to mathematically catch Obama after he won 11 straight contests following Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.  Finally, the campaign suffered due to a lack of understanding that tactical implementation is critical.

I’ve never worked on a presidential campaign, so I can’t even begin to imagine having to lay the groundwork for a nationwide campaign. However, if I was being paid millions of dollars to do it…i’d do my damn best to figure it out quickly. I have, though, worked on multiple campaigns in Northeast Ohio and two things never change. First, stick to your message. I’ve found great success by crafting a strategic message, based on polls, and never straying from it. Second, poor planning will eventually catch up to you. What this article shows is a campaign team that did not know who was in charge of making critical decisions and implementing the many tactics that go into running a campaign. Weeks would go by before a decision was made, and in a 24/7 news world we now live in, her campaign suffered immensely.

Back to Obama’s now famous tagline (no need to type it again). Do you now understand how important those five words are? If you don’t, try to remember Hillary Clinton’s message. Yah, I don’t know it either.

Click here to read the rest of Joshua Green’s article, The Front-Runner’s Fall.

On a side note, the article earned Green a spot on the set of Meet the Press this past Sunday. I thought he did very well, as did David Gregory, who hosted for the first time since Tim Russert’s death.  I’ve been disappointed by Tom Brokaw in previous weeks, and I thought Gregory did a good job preparing for the show and not letting his partisanship come through. He actually seemed to praise Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for how the administration was dealing with Russia’s involvement in Georgia.

Public Policy Advocacy – Special Interests??

18 07 2008

News media. Websites. TV/Radio. Public Presentations. Direct Mail. It never ceases to amaze me at the extensive level taken to influence public policy in our country. 

God Bless the Framers and Founders of our nation for the First Amendment right to free speech!  But, as importantly, the First Amendment provides our right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  In other words, as legal citizens of this country we have the right to influence public policy, laws, regulations and legal decision-making.

I spent nearly a dozen years in my career as the head of government relations for a financial services and insurance company.  There is no comprehensible way to calculate the number of trade groups, advocacy groups, ad hoc coalitions, think tank and policy wonks who are employed solely to influence the public perception and regulation of the health care industry.  I am sure someone has tried to calculate how much is spent on health care advocacy in a given year, but I would tell you to double that number….and then some! 

But, even as there are so-called “special interest” groups pursuing their specific niche piece of the health care industry, it is without question that just about every possible side is represented and every angle has been heard. We are familiar with free-market health care, single-payer health care, government-run health, care, managed care, etc, etc, etc.  All these initiatives have teams of people working daily to further their specific cause. This is what is both great, and at times unfortunate, about how public policy is created and decided in this country.  It is great that our free society provides for the open discussion of nearly every ideology imaginable.   However, it is possible the greatest idea ever imagined could never become public policy if enough money, groups, and organizations are opposed or see the idea as a threat to their ideology. 

Let me go back to the term “special interest.” By far, one of the most overused, and incorrectly used term in our society.  Folks, ALL of us have special interests!! Simply make a list of all your passions, interests, careers, families, religous beliefs, parenting styles, food choices, educational attainment goals, pet ownership beliefs, and on and on and you will quickly see that you, indeed, have a huge variety of special interests.  If you have a passionate opinion on big issues such as abortion, religous freedoms, education reform and health care reform, all the way to day-to-day issues like food labeling and school bussing, your beliefs put you in so-called “special interest” groups. 

By labeling people, it is easy to place them in factions and let them “go at it”!  The media loves to group people into “special interest” to watch them fight over issues like dogs over a piece of meat. As the old media adage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads”!  For instance, if they can get film of pro-life and pro-choice groups screaming at each other, it makes good press.  But, unfortunately, too often the battle is of far more interest to decision-makers than actually taking action on public policy. In other words, when an issue is so controversial it causes massive outcry from both sides, it often becomes too easy to do nothing.  Status quo is often easier, or safer, than making tough decisions.

I go on this rant for a couple key reasons.  One, absolutely speak your mind on public policy issues that impact your world!  Whether it is the illegal immigration, or the height of street signs in your community (yes, I was actually taken to task on this in my community), make your voice heard.  On the other hand, keep in mind that in a free nation, a wide variety of issues and ideologies will be shared from a wide variety of sources. Most come from a distinct difference of opinion, upon which we must agree to disagree. Unfortunately, others come from areas of hatred and malice, where the specific intent is to harm others. This is the crap that often makes the headlines.  Try to stay above the fray and use reason when considering facts. 

Make sure your voice is heard. But, let others speak as well. Hold public officials accountable, and steer public policy through level-headed debate. And, please, the next time someone uses the term “special interest”, feel free to slap them! Stupidity is a pre-existing condition.

Later  – Kerry Smith