Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barack Obama--A Really Different Candidate

As Howard Kurtz notes, because Obama does not court the press-particularly in the same manner as Hillary Clinton or any of the GOP candidates.

That is not to say he doesn't talk to the press--he does. But it is him talking to the press, not his campaign advisors spinning every reporter they can find.
In an age of all-out political warfare, the Obama campaign is a bit of an odd duck: It is not obsessed with winning each news cycle. The Illinois senator remains a remote figure to those covering him, and his team, while competent and professional, makes only spotty attempts to drive its preferred story lines in the press.

"There is no charm offensive from the candidate toward the press corps," says Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe. "The contact is limited. . . . They see the national media more as a logistical problem than a channel for getting stuff out."
In some ways this is not surprising to me.

From the start, Obama has eschewed the "normal" political style. He has courted younger voters (who it must be noted, don't get their news and information through the national media), he has projected a campaign style that is different than the pugnacious approach of Clinton and Edwards. But Kurtz notes that the Obama campaign is a little different in that Obama is much more isolated as a candidate as well, noting one anecdote:
All traveling campaigns have a bubble-like quality, but Obama seems unusually insulated. One moment of absurdity came Tuesday, when reporters on the press bus were asked to dial into a conference call in which Obama announced a congressman's endorsement -- even though the candidate was nearby and just as easily could have delivered the news in person to the bus captives. Obama answered a few questions, but reporters are generally placed on mute after they speak so there can be no follow-up.
But the funny thing is, for all the isolation, it doesn't seem to be hurting Obama's public perception. His campaign rallies are raucous affairs, with large crowds cheering and an energy. The line to get into Obama's rally where he received the Kennedy endorsements stretched for four blocks in Washington DC, that is four blocks with people four and five deep in the line to get in. CNN showed the endorsement and Obama speech afterward. Then CNN showed a Hillary Clinton campaign event and the place looked lively, for a morgue. The contrast could not have been more different.

To a certain extent, Kurtz is whining that the "national" media don't have good ins and sources with the Obama campaign. Obama's people have been as disciplined as the Marine Corps when it comes to message management and that is what is driving the media and Kurtz nuts. It is not so much the lack of spin from the Obama camp so much as it is the lack of differing spin to play off one another.

Obama's campaign is different and it seems to work for him--just not for the media.

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