Who is Running the Show?

The Virginia Senate race is billed as one of the high profile US Senate races of 2006. If true, how did the candidates come up with such poorly run campaigns?

On the Allen front, clearly they were expecting to cruise to an easy win. Given the lack of Webb fundraising, that probably would have happened…until “macaca” happened. Then the Allen campaign stumbled over itself, tried to temporize, did not apologize quickly, and allowed the incident to become a story that breathed new life into the Webb campaign and probably torpedoed Allen’s chances at the 2008 GOP presidential nod.

Why no quick response? Why no effort to cauterize fast? The Allen team had to know the WaPo and other media outlets were looking for a story in the dog days of August, and Team Allen handed it to them.

Meanwhile, the Team Webb has been unable to raise money, and the time is coming when the ability to produce tv ads and then buy adequate time is running short. They have put all their eggs in the Anti-Iraq campaign basket, and have done precious little to get out Webb’s views on other issues. Without the fundraising, do they have the resources to go so negative on Allen that folks will vote for Webb even though they know next to nothing about Webb’s positions?

Yeah, yeah, I know that there are position papers galore on the website, and all you have to do is go online…but how many people are going to take the time to do that? I suggest that the folks who take the time to search out position papers are not the folks who you need to reach via television and mail.

Even in the current Annapolis imbroglio over Webb’s 1979 article, the Webbistas are clubfooted. You will note that in his response to the Allen press conference Webb says:

“I did not anticipate the widespread reaction to this magazine article, and to the extent that my writing subjected women at the Academy or the active Armed Forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.”

First, how could a skilled campaign team not have anticipated the Allen campaign would bring this matter up? Second, why would they put out an apology that apologizes for causing hardship, but not for writing the piece in the first place?

The idea at times like this is to deal with the issue quickly and completely. Like Allen’s failure to deal with “macaca” quickly, this apology does not close down the matter and leaves room for the Allen campaign to come back that Webb is not taking responsibility for writing the article.

We have two heavyweight candidates slugging it out for one of the highest elected positions in our republic, and the tones and manner of their campaigns is closer to Beavis and Butthead than Lincoln and Douglas.

I wish the campaigns they were running-or perhaps just the management of those campaigns-reflected the importance of the race.

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