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What Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove Know About the Way to Win the White House in 2008

  • Long before the campaign gets underway, hire someone who is tough, fearless, assertive discreet, and of unquestioned competence to do opposition research—on yourself.
  • It's never too early to have your allies say negative things about the people who might someday run against you; strangle challengers in the crib.
  • In polarized America, base voters care greatly about general election electability, so from the beginning of your nomination campaign, find ways to convey that you can win 270 electoral votes.
  • If you have a relative who has been president, determine how to leverage the upside and limit the downside.
  • Co-opt your opponent’s strengths. For example, if your rival has a positive image as a reformer, you should cast yourself as a “reformer with results.”
  • Run on the same message in the nomination fight that you plan to run on in the general election.
  • Relentlessly sell long-term and short-term narratives about your life that reflect your personal biography and political agenda.
  • Figure out what the press and public like about you (Note: the press won’t like much of anything about you, unless your last name is “McCain”) and emphasize the events and statements that exhibit those positive traits.
  • Figure out what the press and public don’t like about you and minimize the number of events and statements that exhibit those negative traits.
  • When you are attacked, respond to the accusations that are false and over-reaching, so you don't have to address the true ones.
  • Be ready to answer the incessant and inevitable media questions about controversial topics with an immaculate version of the exact same rehearsed response, every time.
  • But don’t seem too rehearsed.
  • Reporters are not your friends; steel yourself to illusions to the contrary.
  • You can’t know too many rich people.
  • You can’t have too much staff loyalty.
  • Senior staff friction within your campaign will happen; keep it in the family, and out of the press.
  • Compile a mental enemies list of people who have crossed you. Never write it down. Make sure people are afraid to be put on the list, and even more afraid when they are on it.
  • Never lose control of your public image.





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