Salena Zito

You should have gotten into the arena effectively and, for all that is politically sacred, you should have never said you might not go to the first presidential debate in Mississippi. Instead, you should have declared: “I am going to do all of these things and then I cannot wait to debate my opponent, because I want Americans to see what my plan is.”

Starting now, stop allowing political sideshows to get in your way. No one cared if Gwen Ifill, the moderator for the vice-presidential debate, is writing a book about Obama. Really -- no one cares.

And what were you doing in Iowa? You need to be in Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, with side trips to New Hampshire and Colorado -- and never anywhere else.

Tactically, you should be talking about your plans for America to escape its psychological mess and its very real economic and foreign policy morasses. And be upbeat. No more whining. Whining only gets in the way of your message about how you will move the country forward and demonstrate leadership.

In contrast to your mistakes, Obama is doing everything right; the recent polling trends toward him back that up. He is coming across as steady, calm, reasoned.

Perhaps you need to embrace your inner Harry Truman.

While many pundits are crying “Free Sarah Palin!” in response to the lack of press access to her, it might be wiser to free yourself -- and let you be you.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.