The Palin Rollout ... Revisited

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Sep 28, 2008 5:16 PM


Byron York makes a very good point about the Palin rollout:
"Palin is the person who almost single-handedly repaired John McCain's relations with the conservative base, and a base media strategy might have been a more effective one.  If, a week or so after the Republican convention, Palin had done a lot of talk radio — Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin, Bennett, Hewitt, etc. — she would have had widespread exposure to the voters most favorably disposed to her.  Of course the campaign press corps would have complained, but they would also probably have been forced to use snippets from Palin's talk-radio interviews, which means that what Palin said in a friendly atmosphere would ultimately make its way to an even wider audience, one that includes independents and undecided voters.  After that radio immersion period — starting, say, about now — Palin would do interviews with everyone."
... I would only add that -- in addition to cable and talk radio -- the McCain folks could have also incorporated the conservative blogosphere into this rollout, too. 

During the primaries (when candidates were wooing conservatives -- not "undecideds"), blogs often were allowed to "break" news stories, and even occasionally scoop the MSM.  Candidates were keenly aware that blogs could be used to push stories into the mainstream media, and candidates behaved accordingly. John McCain invited bloggers, such as yours truly, on the Straight Talk Express, Mike Huckabee did a special video to thank Townhall readers, etc.

But since McCain has captured the nomination, the outreach to establishment media has dominated.  For example, I was just on a conference call with Sen. Lieberman and -- as has been the case now for months -- only MSM reporters were selected to ask questions.  In many ways, this is prudent for McCain (who needs to spend the majority of his time attempting to appeal to undecided voters) -- but Palin is not McCain.

While you obviously cannot be elected president by ignoring the mainstream media, Byron's point that a friendly conservative media (and I would add the New Media) could have been helpful in prepping Sarah Palin before she was thrown to the lions, is well taken.  Remember, Palin isn't running for president, so her outreach to conservatives is, perhaps, more important than is her acceptance by undecided voters.

So why did the McCain campaign proceed as they did?  It seems that the rollout strategy may have been made out of weakness.  They were likely influenced by the media's insistance that she do interviews, as opposed to crafting a proactive long-term strategy that would have played to Palin's strengths...