I had the privilege of MCing an event in Dallas last night (July 28) featuring an apparent rarity– famed pollster and analyst Frank Luntz as the featured speaker for a campaign fundraiser for a specific candidate.
The candidate was GOP Rep. Sam Johnson, who has represented Texas’ 3rd House district (North Dallas-Plano) since 1991. Frank would apparently walk through fire for Sam, and so should we all. He was a POW in North Vietnam for longer than John McCain, yet maintains a clarity on interrogating terrorists that McCain has sadly lost. Unknown in most of America, Sam Johnson is the embodiment of those often fuzzy terms, conservatism and patriotism.
You will recognize Frank Luntz from many cable news channels, usually tracking focus group responses to debates an campaign ads with instant response dials whose readings create a real-time graph of how a room is responding to political messages. It’s pure genius.
Frank revisited some 2008 ads for a Dallas dinner crowd that audibly sighed when it saw Mitt Romney and even Fred Thompson, the subjects of more admiration than the actual nominee.
But like conservatives everywhere, Dallas Republicans know it is sheer idiocy to engage in anti-McCain tantrums that would help bring about the nightmare of an actual Obama presidency.
So they were eager to hear the advice Frank offered for McCain through the convention and the debates:
1) Make sure you graciously and sincerely make note of the amazing history Barack Obama is creating with his ascendancy. This doesn’t mean you can’t differ with him, but earn some points by giving him his due for the barrier he has knocked down.
2) To make sure he does not actually knock down the barrier to the Oval Office, get tough on Washington’s intrusions in our lives– taxation, absurd spending, overregulation. Feel free to invoke your stay at the Hanoi Hilton in at least one way– suggest that the North Vietnamese could not break you, and neither will Washington, as you seek to eliminate earmarks and actually reduce spending.
3) To boldly show that every move you make is for the betterment of the country and not the shallow desire to be re-elected, pledge to serve only one term.
There is sense in what Frank observes, but I believe a desire to be re-elected is the only thing that might restrain him from his thoroughly unsatisfactory instincts on global warming, campaign finance and a guest worker program.
Frank Luntz’s latest book, “Words that Work,” is out in paperback. Among his suggestions: stop calling for “drilling.” It conjures images of an oil-spewing derrick 100 feet offshore. Talk about “deep-sea energy exploration,” and everybody loves it.
Ah, the games that lie ahead.
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