Politico.com is circulating excerpts it obtained from the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s Internet Campaign Guide. Much of the advice in this document is quite good, outlining an effective strategy of reaching out to conservative bloggers early, providing them with scoops for the mainstream media to riff off of–message amplification that they concede the Democrats executed brilliantly in 2006.
The report becomes doubly interesting to Colorado observers when it gets to the section “Blogging Community Outreach: Rapid Response to Attacks.”
If candidates are more or less continuously monitored via blog search engines, with the use of websites such as Technorati.com, blogs can often be used as an “early-warning system” to help discern if an opponent’s attacks are gaining traction. Rapid response and explanation of a position or vote to friendly blogs can ensure center-right solidarity behind your defense. The paradigmatic example of the failure to do so is the “macaca” moment. Conservative blogs, who had long been lauding Senator George Allen, were annoyed by shifting justifications and turned on Allen with a vengeance. Senator Allen was never fully able to regain his status with bloggers, many of whom, at the time, were still touting Allen for President. [Pols emphasis]
As our readers of course know, Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams was Allen’s campaign manager, as well as a major proponent of the kind of blogging engagement strategy the NRSC is telling all of its candidates to adopt. Wadhams helped pioneer the blog/media methodology in South Dakota managing a successful campaign to bring down Sen. Tom Daschle, and it’s prominently adorned his resume ever since.
It’s pretty tough to read this internal NRSC document and not conclude, however, that he’s lost his standing with national Republican leaders. After all, Wadhams is the one quoted by the Washington Post as dismissing the “Macaca” incident with a “barnyard epithet,” exactly the disastrous response the NRSC is urging candidates to avoid in this memo:
TWELVE DAYS after his now-notorious “macaca” comment, Sen. George F. Allen (R-Va.) succumbed to the political equivalent of begging for mercy: He apologized to his victim. Yesterday he telephoned S.R. Sidarth, a student at the University of Virginia who is of Indian ancestry, and said he was sorry for holding him up to public ridicule at a rally held in a 99 percent white county in southwest Virginia on Aug. 11. Mr. Sidarth, who is from Fairfax County, was videotaping the rally on behalf of Mr. Allen’s Democratic opponent, James Webb.
The senator’s gesture was apt, but it hardly seemed sincere. Even as he apologized, his campaign continued its two-faced strategy of simultaneously scoffing at the entire incident as what Dick Wadhams, Mr. Allen’s campaign manager, has said is a contrivance. To Mr. Wadhams, politics means never having to say you’re sorry.
Mr. Wadhams, an itinerant political hit man known for his nasty attacks on opponents, told Republican leaders in a memo sent over the weekend that the Webb campaign and the media had ganged up “to create national news over something that did not warrant coverage in the first place.”
He continued: “Never in modern times has a statewide office holder and candidate been so vilified.” In other words, Mr. Allen is the victim — not the 20-year-old student whom he mocked with an insulting, possibly racist slur in front of scores of chortling supporters…
“Never having to say you’re sorry”–except to candidates whose defeat you preside over. Apparently, the NRSC got the message.