Since the end of the Democratic primary Barack Obama has faced a barrage of negative advertising that has cost him his lead, and the turned the 2008 presidential election into a tie. Below are five things that Obama can do to get his lead back.
1). Fight Back – Much like John Kerry and Al Gore before him, Barack Obama does not seem to have the temperament of a street fighter. The campaign puts out some great counter attacks, but the candidate himself tends to be a little too cerebral in his attacks. While McCain is going for the throat on Obama, the Democrat has been reluctant to do the same with McCain. Obama already has a built in counter attack to this McCain strategy and that is to label McCain as the politics of old. Unfortunately, this theme has often been secondary to attacks on McCain’s judgment that don’t seem to be connecting with voters. Obama needs to bring up the Keating Five scandal, just to remind the America about the kind of politics McCain practices.
2). Get Back On Message – Barack Obama won the Democratic Primary on message of hope and change, but so far in the general election campaign, Obama has been so been so busy talking about tax cuts, national security, patriotism , and energy that his message of change may have been forgotten by some voters. He needs to remind voters everyday why America needs change. Luckily, he will have a chance to relaunch his message in front of a national audience next Thursday, and thus far, when Obama has needed a big speech he has delivered. His speech at the convention will set the tone for the fall.
3). It Really Is The Economy – By my personal count, the Obama campaign only holds an event or two a week on the economy. This makes no sense because the economy is one of the major reasons why 80% of voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction. There is no reason why the Obama campaign should not be talking about the economy every day. Obama needs to campaign against the economy. Often Obama’s talk about the economy has lately focused on tying John McCain to the bad economy. This isn’t good enough. What Obama needs to do is earn the trust of the voters that he can fix the economy. If he does this, he will regain his lead.
4). Pick the Right Running Mate – Right now, the campaign sorely needs a shot energy, the kind of burst that can come from a strong running mate who brings a fresh voice to the discussion. Instead of looking at running mates who might swing a state, Obama needs some grit and toughness. He needs someone who will roll up their sleeves and get dirty. For example, when George W. Bush was an inexperienced, but likable, presidential candidate in 2000, he selected Dick Cheney to be the bad cop to his good cop. Obama is a very likable personality, and he makes a very good cop, but what his campaign is missing is someone who will get down and dirty with the GOP. If Obama adds this to the ticket, he will be freed to focus on the big picture.
5). Go Back on Offense – Did you notice that since the general election campaign has started healthcare has vanished as an issue? The same thing can be said about education and other domestic issues. The Obama camp has let McCain control the agenda, so all too often they are talking about issues that favor the Republican. If Obama is really promoting change, then he needs to start talking about issues that Americans have not heard much about for eight years. I mentioned it before, but healthcare could be such a big issue for him, but it is one that his campaign seems to have dropped.
The Obama that we have seen so far isn’t the man who won the Democratic nomination. The Obama camp seems so worried about looking too liberal that they have gotten themselves off track and are playing defense against McCain’s daily charges. If Obama wants to get his groove back, he needs to be more aggressive with his message of hope and change, and start talking about domestic issues that matter.
Pick a running mate to handle the foreign policy end of things, and start reminding voters again why this nation needs change. Obama needs to be the symbol of hope for America, and if Obama starts being Obama again, he will resume control of this race. If he doesn’t, he faces the prospect of being the author of one of the biggest Democratic collapses in history, and Hillary Clinton can start planning her 2012 Democratic campaign.