At this point, the front runners for each of the parties are beginning to make themselves evident – and they’ve already taken a few swipes at each other in the press. So, since we’re about to get to the fun part of campaign commercial seasons, it’s worth taking a look at how each of the candidates will use their advertising dollars to get their message out to the public. This is actually predictable to an extent, since we have a good character record to go by.
Clinton – Expect a very positive message of hope. Clinton’s focus is on domestic and family issues, with a generous dose of Civil Rights. She may run the occasional attack ad, but then only to compare her opponent’s record and stand on the issues to her own. She can do very well with ads revolving around health care, happy children, ending the war to bring the troops home to their families, and improving education. She will have to earnestly defend herself on her foreign and economic policy. If she doesn’t get at least one “tax-and-spend Democrat” salvo fired at her, the other candidates just aren’t trying.
Obama – Obama is Mr. Positive. If he does run an attack ad, it would be a very dumb move, because one thing he isn’t is a shark. He’s doing good with a squeaky-clean campaign so far. He has a lot of answers about foreign policy, and he will most likely focus on matters beyond our borders and making a stronger U.S. economy in the sphere of the global market. He will have to work hard to prove that he’s “all-American”, because of his racial mixture and multicultural background. He might be smart to counter with the point that there’s more to America than white Europeans, and that the U.S. needs to be aware of what’s going on outside its borders.
Edwards – Bringing up the rear, Edwards has a long fight ahead and not so much strategy ready. Expect him to get very feisty if he wants to make a serious effort. We’ve seen Edwards campaign before, and advertising is his weak spot. In his previous run, he lost to the lack-luster John Kerry and was out-charisma’d by the animated Howard Dean. He has shown great awareness on Internet issues, so he would be wise to connect with the web-savvy voters. He will also magnify concerns over taking care of our own citizens. He focuses a lot on Hurricane Katrina victims, but he has to be careful not to be cornered behind it like Giuliani is with 9/11.
Giuliani – Expect the dirtiest possible campaign. It’s going to be a challenge for Giuliani to do anything but attack, seeing as how his sole political experience is being a bulldog prosecuting attorney and being a mayor in a city that just happened to have a terrorist attack at the time. Like the Bush administration, his biggest club is fear. Fear of terrorism has done good in past campaigns, but Americans outside of the trailer-park set aren’t so easily spooked any more. Giuliani will have to hustle to show that he has a domestic policy, and he would do well to get in a publicity shot or two of kissing babies and petting puppies, to show he has a softer side. You could almost make a drinking game out of how many times he says “9/11” on any given day.
Huckabee – Expect to be beaten over the head with a gold-plated cross. Huckabee seems to be convinced that there’s nobody in America except Christian Conservatives, so that’s his campaign. Attack ads based on morality issues aren’t just expected, but guaranteed. However, his campaign will fall short if he tries to get voted in solely on the assurance that he won’t let any gays get married. His most recent ad, in which he lists sexually aberrant behavior with a list lumping “homosexuality, pedophilia, sadomasochism, and necrophilia” together as one block of behaviors he’s fighting to oppose, has already come under fire for being more like the Spanish Inquisition than an American political campaign.
Romney – Kind of a wild card, here. Romney is a businessman, and he plays down his Mormon religion and the values which derive from it, even though he votes them just the same. Expect a Huckabee campaign without as much dirt in it, but with a lot more money. Romney is wealthy and self-made, and he doesn’t want anybody to forget it. Expect him to dive into economic and fiscal policy issues, spend some time on civil liberties he’d like to put down, and the promise of a smoother, leaner, more efficient government. He’s most likely to hurl the “tax-and-spend” petard at his opponents.
McCain – Mr. Nice Guy. McCain has run before, and many contend that the only reason that he lost his former Presidential run is because voters were more comfortable with George Bush. Expect a campaign focused on the military and national defense, with a dose of his impressive military record. He’s been the “dark horse” for a long time, and if he expects to win, he needs to make a serious commitment to running his campaign sharper and more aggressively than his opponents. He’s also the only Republican candidate that can connect well with Liberals, so he would be wise to try to maximize that appeal. His weak spot is his own humility.
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