Digital Markets Blog presidential campaign 2008 special series on what I am calling “User Generated Politics”
The Republican 2008 presidential campaign field blew its first chance to engage with the American public, big time.
Who DID the slate of ten Republican hopefuls engage with at the party’s first debate held at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Thursday?
President Ronald Reagan, his wife Nancy and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The evening was uninspired, uneventful, mismanaged and perhaps the worst indictment for a televised event: BORING!
From the get go, the stage of Republican candidates presented a stark visual contrast to the Democratic field which debated the week before.
Ten Republican presidential candidates debated; Ten (all seemingly old) white men talking amongst themselves.
Eight Democrat candidates debated: Old and not so; Male and female; White and Hispanic and Black…with sometimes sharp barbs from “outsiders” Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.
Gravel: Some of these people frighten me. When you have main-line candidates that turn around and say that there's nothing off the table with respect to Iran, that's code for using nukes, nuclear devices.
Kucinich to Barack Obama: You're setting the stage for another war.
No Republican "color" or fireworks, however.
The first question of the Republican debate came from a (he’s no Brian Williams) moderator Chris Matthews, an opening set-up for an ode to Reagan.
Matthews: Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's morning in America?
Giuliani: What we can borrow from Ronald Reagan, since we are in his library, is that great sense of optimism that he had. He led by building on the strengths of America, not running America down. And we're a country that people love to come to, they want to come to this country with a shining city on the hill.
Those are the things that Ronald Reagan taught us: You lead from optimism.
Mitt Romney: Well, if you wanted to have a president that just followed the polls, all we need to do is plug in our TVs and have them run the country. But that's not what America wants. It's not what America needs. We need leadership that's strong and that shows America what we can do to lead the world.
Ronald Reagan was a president of strength. His philosophy was a philosophy of strength: a strong military, a strong economy and strong families.
Giuliani on potential terrorist showdowns: (They have to) look at an American president and see Ronald Reagan. Remember, they looked in Ronald Reagan's eyes, and in two minutes, they released the hostages.
Moderator: One of our prized guests here today, Governor Schwarzenegger -- looking this man in the eye, answer this question -- I'm going to go down the line, starting with Governor Romney. Should we change our Constitution, which we believe is divinely inspired to allow men like Mel Martinez, the chairman of your party, born in Cuba, great patriot, the senator from Florida, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to stand here some night?
Romney: Nver given that a lot of thought, but with Arnold sitting there, I'll give it some thought, but probably not.
Mike Huckabee: After I've served eight years as president, I'd be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.
Duncan Hunter: We haven't seen his endorsement yet, that's a no.
John McCain: Depends on whether he endorses me or not.
Giuliani: When he called me up to endorse him, he got me on the phone, he said, "Will you endorse me?", and I was too afraid to say no. I would say yes.
Tom Tancredo: Intimidating as he might be, I'm saying no.
Moderator: Governor Romney, Daniel Duchovnik from Walnut Creek, California, wants to know: What do you dislike most about America?
Romney: Gosh. I love America. I'm afraid I'm going to be at a loss for words because America for me is not just our rolling mountains and hills and streams and great cities. It's the American people. And the American people are the greatest people in the world. What makes America the greatest nation in the world is the heart of the American people.
It's that optimism we thank Ronald Reagan for. Thank you, Mrs. Reagan, for opening up this place in his memory for us. It is that optimism about this great people that makes this the greatest nation on earth.
If the Republicans are so keen on “being like Ronald,” they ought to have put on a Reagan worthy performance!More in this Digital Markets Special Series:
Obama trounces Clinton in online campaign money grab
Hillary Clinton snags $4.2 million online
Obama and Clinton tussle over women
Google, YouTube target $80 million political ad spend
Hillary Clinton, Democrats lead Republicans in Web race to the White House
Google wins big as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battle
STAY TUNED TO THIS DIGITAL MARKETS BLOG FOR CONTINUING COVERAGE OF WHAT I AM CALLING “USER GENERATED POLITICS” 2008