Killing your Campaign in a Soundbite

Previously, we had enjoyed several Republican Party presidential debates, so it was only right and fitting that we would tune in to CNN to watch the first of the Democratic Party presidential debates. This highly anticipated happening occurred on Tuesday, October 13th.

Only Five Candidates

Expecting tedium, it turned out to be a rollicking good debate. There are always media-perceived winners and losers. This time around, the ‘main stream media’ chose Mrs. Clinton as the winner, with Messrs. Sanders and O’Malley coming in second and third behind her.

There were two other Democratic Party presidential candidates on the stage. One was Lincoln Chafee, former Governor of Rhode Island, the other was Jim Webb, of Virginia.  Only five candidates.

Awkward Bookends

Both looked like fish out of water on the stage. Webb looked as though his tie had taken on a knotty personality and had begun systemically choking him into red-faced oblivion. Chafee alternately looked bemused and surprised, as though he had expected to find himself anywhere else but standing on that stage.

Appropriately enough, the podiums of both Webb and Chafee were physically situated on the stage as book-ends to the three central figures, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley.

The Former Governor of the State of Rhode Island

To say that Chafee looked awkward throughout the debate would be grossly understating the affect he presented. Tall, remote, somewhat child-like and goofy looking, the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat drew the ire of his embarrassed fellow Rhode Islanders in the aftermath of the debate.

Media specialists have since repeatedly suggested to Mr. Chafee that he drop out of the race. But no, he says that he will continue campaigning, in order to raise ‘important issues’. As Chafee only got to speak for about nine minutes at the debate, it’s not clear what those issues actually are.

One can only ponder in bemusement as to how he plans on financing this pie-in-the-sky campaign, with less than $30k raised thus far.

The next Democratic Party debate will be televised live on CBS on November 14, from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. I feel comfortable in making the prediction that the former Governor of Rhode Island will not have a podium. 

The Former United States Senator from Virginia

Jim Webb blew up his campaign in the closing minutes of the first Democratic Party. Mr. Webb is a former United States Senator from Virginia, who had a short-lived tenure as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration. He resigned in anger over a budget proposal, which should not surprise anyone who watched his affect at the debate.

Another Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat, the much-married Webb looked as awkward as Chafee did, albeit in a polar-opposite manner. Stocky and red-faced, he just looked plain uncomfortable. At times he had that puzzled look of a child wondering why he had been invited to the party when nobody would play with him.

Killing your Campaign in a Soundbite

CNN’s excellent moderator Anderson Cooper posed the following question to each candidate:

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?”
The air left the room with a big whoosh at Mr. Webb’s response, which was:

“I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.”

Kristian Todd, wife of NBC’s Chuck, is Webb’s PR person, while Debbie Rich is Chafee’s.

Margaret Mulvihill is Director of Communications at Lawson Mulvihill Media Inc., in Washington, DC.  Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/political_pr

Categories: politics