McCollum & Sink campaigns learn from Meek’s “Rapid Response”
Several prominent political first aid kits swung open in Florida this week, as damage control spin doctors sprung into action.
On Tuesday, in an oddly desperate display of “bipartisanship”, the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Bill McCollum finally woke up and smelled the coffee, joining forces with Democratic rival Alex Sink in ripping the insurgent – and surging – GOP candidacy of scandalized multi-millionaire Rick Scott.
After sitting back for a month and watching Scott use his millions to go on the TV Ad offensive, McCollum’s poll numbers were in a tailspin. Enter campaign manager Matt Williams, finally going on the attack with the following statement – or to be more accurate, a restatement of Democrat Sink’s attack on Scott earlier in the day. Must have been more than a few smiling faces in the Sink camp when they saw this:
Earlier today, Democrat Alex Sink issued a blistering statement attacking Rick Scott. It was predictable, and sadly, it was accurate. Rick Scott’s sordid history is a reality that must be addressed. His business practices are filled with scandal, mismanagement and fraud. Rick Scott was ousted from his business because it perpetrated the largest Medicare fraud scheme in American history. Alex Sink took the opportunity to point this out and make no mistake, Alex Sink and the Democrats will continue this line of attack.”
But the Sink team couldn’t have been smiling for long. A new Scott vs. Sink general election poll released this week showed them in a virtual dead heat.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate campaign of Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek has proven it’s not prone to the pitfalls of the “sit back & watch” school of political combat. Meek’s “rapid response” communications team has been functioning effectively for months, working across the lines of traditional and “new” social media to get positive messages out – and to quickly counter any attacks on him.
When real estate gambling billionaire Jeff Greene plunged into the race recently, the Meek team was ready. It was clear Greene’s strategy would be similar to Rick Scott’s – using personal wealth to mount a media blitz diverting attention from his controversial past and questionable credentials, while attacking the frontrunner. Sure enough, late last week, Greene called Meek a “corrupt” politician – but without any proof to back up the charge. This week, he rolled out his first two TV Ads, attempting to frame him as a “successful outsider” running against “career politicians”.
Instead of waiting a month and helplessly watching Greene climb in the polls, the Meek campaign immediately responded with its own reframing effort, the launch of a new website called “The Truth About Jeff Greene“. The home page features a scathing, funny 2-minute video called “Leave It To Greene” – plus links to additional content, like “Ten Things You Didn’t Know” and “Claims Vs. Reality”.
These political punches and counterpunches will of course continue. But the early rounds of these battles are indeed all about Framing – as in, if you want to win, you’ve got to beat the other side to the punch in positively framing yourself and your positions on the issues – while negatively framing your opponent.
How well the McCollum, Sink and Meek campaigns manage to meet that dual challenge will determine whether they emerge as winners – or get framed as losers by the free-spending, profligate campaigns of Scott and Greene.