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Third Base Politics


"These specifics will be answered when I’m ready to answer them, not when the questions are asked."

Yesterday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer played the part of spokesperson for the Strickland campaign, echoing the Governor’s continuing campaign narrative that Kasich doesn’t want to reveal any details of his plans to save Ohio from the incumbent’s failures.

John Kasich believes in message discipline, which means he’ll answer questions when he’s good and ready. Ohio voters who want to know how the former congressman and Lehman Brothers executive would handle thorny issues in the state budget, for example, will find out when the GOP candidate for governor decides it is time to tell them.

The same goes for reporters. Especially reporters who have been frustrated by Kasich’s media strategy. (To tell supporters how he felt about Gov. Ted Strickland’s state of the state address, Kasich released a video — and his campaign told reporters to watch it if they wanted his speech reaction.)

So Ohio media, know this: Strickland, the Democratic governor whom Kasich is challenging, feels your pain.

Cry me a river.

As we’ve mentioned before, begging for policy details right now is nothing but inside baseball. The only people that would be paying attention to any kind of rollout are the media and the very few Ohioans that are actually focusing on the race right now – the exact same folks who read blogs like this one.

First off, Strickland’s complaint that Kasich hasn’t unveiled enough details is awash with irony considering four years ago he didn’t unveil any significant aspects of his Turnaround Ohio plan until mid-Spring of 2006. And when he did, he was universally panned by the press for its ambiguity. Strickland should be the last person complaining.

Additionally, it makes zero sense from a political perspective to unveil significant details when the vast majority of the state isn’t paying attention to the race. If Kasich wants the voters to fully understand his upcoming policy proposals, he’ll do it when they’re tuned in. Releasing everything now would prevent the new policy initiatives from getting the adequate coverage down the road when the public is prepared to ingest more campaign specifics from both sides.

Finally, I find it amusing that the PD complains about Kasich utilizing youtube to deliver his response to the State of the State in a complete and unfiltered form.

To understand the Kasich strategy, read this passage from a recently released book on campaign strategy:

As was the case throughout the campaign, most people did not watch the speech on TV. It was delivered on a Tuesday morning, when just about everyone was at work. Instead, people watched it online, most of them on YouTube, either as it was happening or at their leisure later that day or in the days to come. Eventually, tens of millions of voters saw the speech through various outlets.

This marked a fundamental change in political coverage and message consumption, and one that will only continue as technology rolls forward: big moments, political or otherwise, will no longer be remembered by people as times when everyone gathered around TVs to watch a speech, press conference, or other event. Increasingly, most of us will recall firing up the computer, searching for a video, and watching it at home or at the office–or even on cell phones.

That is an excerpt from David Plouffe’s The Audacity to Win; Obama’s campaign manager’s blueprint of campaign success. These paragraphs highlighted the Obama campaign’s brilliant tactic of utilizing youtube to bypass the media and speak directly to the voters. It enabled the public to hear the campaign’s message unfiltered and without any threat of media bias. And ultimately, it helped shape the message the media communicated via their own mediums.

The Kasich campaign has adapted to the digital age. They’re using strategies that while new, have proven successful. And while Kasich’s youtube videos will never go anywhere near as viral as Obama’s, they will shape the message of the campaign.

And that won’t make the media very happy.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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