One less-public side of the online politics world involves the blizzard of emails and texts that fly between political communications staff and reporters just about every day. The communicators’ goal: to influence reporting and shift the public narrative in the direction they want. Their weapons: facts, innuendo, rumor and humor. The “memo” below is a prime example; it arrived from the California Democratic Party earlier today. Enjoy, and also be sure to check out the CD Dems’ earlier take on the Demon Sheep Phenomenon if you haven’t already.
MEMO: PERFORMANCE REVIEW
To: Carly Fiorina
CC: Political Reporters, Interested Parties
From: Tenoch Flores, Communications Director
RE: Day 1 of your general election campaign
Date: June 10, 2010
Dear Candidate Carly,
You’ve often talked about the valuable lessons you learned while running HP into the ground during your tenure as CEO. We can’t say much about the lessons firing 30,000 workers may have taught you, but we can agree that it can be beneficial to have a performance review every now and then.
Your friends at the California Democratic Party have decided that now is the perfect time for such an assessment. We would like to review and replay your first day on the campaign trail in the general election, and together see how you might be able to improve on that performance.
I know you’re nervous — most people are when they get called in for a performance review — but don’t worry, we’ll also include tips on how you can improve. There is one caveat, however. We can only offer help on how to improve your campaigning — there is nothing we can do about the record you “built up” tearing through 30,000 American workers as CEO of Hewlett Packard. You’re on your own for that one.
First, let’s talk about this thing called the “Live Mic.” When you’re in the studio being prepped to go on the air, the microphone is on. It’s catching everything you say. So be careful not to bash that other ex-CEO, and your running mate on the Republican ticket, Meg Whitman. It’s just going to create a big hubbub and that’s not what you want on Day 1 of your general election roll-out..
Second, we need to talk about your comments regarding Senator Barbara Boxer’s hairstyle. Forgive the bluntness, but this really needs to sink in: Californians are hurting, frankly in large part as a result of the hangover created by the Republican’s reliance on market deregulation and their undying faith in the good will of Wall Street CEOs. They don’t want to hear you trashing Barbara Boxer’s hairstyle.
Remember: you’re supposed to make people believe you’re a “new kind of candidate.” Descending into petty attacks on — of all things — your opponent’s hairstyle, doesn’t help you.
Third, the issue of the layoffs you initiated while at Hewlett Packard. Look, you need to understand: voters generally don’t harbor good feelings about people who fire 30,000 Americans then proceed to ship jobs overseas to China and India. So when you choose to do a morning drive-time interview with a Los Angeles radio station and you’re asked point blank if “the figures” required you to fire 10,000 more workers today would you do it, for crying out loud don’t say “of course.” Audio: http://tinyurl.com/Fiorina-Jun9
It’s going to be hard enough to run from the 30,000 jobs that you cut, especially in this economy, so you might re-consider adding another 10,000 for good measure.
Fourth, and this goes back to that “Live Mic” issue, don’t be so quick to bolt from your far-right Republican base. If Meg Whitman wants to go on Sean Hannity’s show the first day of her general election campaign, let her do it. And by the way, that would not be the first time she was on his show. In fact, both you and Meg were on Hannity’s show on March 30, 2010, unfortunately the same day he praised the Tea Party movement and his audience as “Tim McVeigh wannabees” while they cheered.
Fifth, we need to talk about your endorsements. I know you like Sarah Palin, that’s why you sought, and were awarded with, her endorsement. I hate to break this to you but California is not exactly red state country. Have you seen those VR numbers lately? There are 2.3 million more Democratic voters in California than Republicans. Most Californians wouldn’t be caught dead next to Sarah Palin and her extreme views. Your running mate Meg will have the same problem with her much-coveted Dick Cheney endorsement. And while we’re on the topic: James Inhofe? You accepted an endorsement from a U.S. Senator who believes global warming is a “hoax”?
Carly, you’ve got a lot of work to do. We already hear the Democrats are fired up and can’t wait to talk about your record. I know this may seem like a particularly harsh performance review but it really is in your best interest. Keep your chin up and remember, things could be much worse: you could be one of those 30,000 HP workers you threw out into the street when you were CEO.
# # #
Zang! Obviously lots of spin, but note the strengths — it’s topical, it hits the major message points Dems want to get out about Fiorina, it has links to outside sites for validation (though most are Lefty sites, note), and it’s funny enough to linger in the mind. Mission: Accomplished.