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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, June 16, 2003


How Will Dean Deal With the Republican Siege?

posted by Ezra at Monday, June 16, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This is from Dean reader Sam Krishna - He wrote it up and asked me to post it. I think it's a terrific way to get people thinking and brainstorming about these issues. It's kind of long, but pick out what catches your eye and expand on it. You know the campaign is watching - maybe we can come up with some good ideas.


Shifting from strategic to tactical issues, we know from the Clintons that the Republicans will attempt to win using a scorched-earth strategy masterminded by Karl Rove and executed by Marc Racicot . If you are the nominee, what will you specifically do to address the following "Republican siege" issues (organized into five specific blocks):

Homeland Security/Sept. 11 issues:

(1) How will you neutralize or score political points on Bush's shameless use of Sept. 11 to further his political goals?

(2) As a follow-up, what plans do you have in place to counter-rally the GOP convention that's scheduled for the week before Sept. 11? What plans do you have in place to point out the policy failures that led the Administration to *not* do everything it could to protect this country from the Sept. 11 terrorists? Do you have specific contingency plans in place to schedule a counter-event on Sept. 11 since Bush *will* celebrate the Sept. 11 anniversary in NYC (just 8 days after his acceptance speech on Sept. 3)?

(3) What is your ad strategy to show how "tax cuts = homeland security cuts"? Given the widely publicized criticism from FDNY and NYPD on federal funding cuts for first-responder technology, what strategy do you have in-place to take advantage of that fact? Specifically, what is your ad strategy for highlighting how lost tax revenue could have been used for making Americans safer? Will you hire/solicit professional FDNY and NYPD personnel who worked Sept. 11 to speak in ads about this issue?

(4) What is your ad strategy to highlight the Bush policy failures of Afghanistan and Iraq? Will you highlight the number of Americans who have died in vain if there are no WMDs discovered in Iraq?

(5) What is your ad strategy for highlighting the Bush policy failures fragmenting NATO? If so, what is it? Specifically, is your campaign willing to say that Bush's policies are designed to destroy NATO (which protected us for 50 years from the Communist threat)? Are you willing to imply that NATO's destruction makes the U.S. less, and not more, secure? If so, how will you tie NATO's fragmentation to Homeland Security failures?

The Conservative Media:

(6) The Republicans have (and its Freepers), Rush Limbaugh,, Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal, and majority editorial control of most of the mainstream news outlets. In 1992, Bill Clinton's campaign had "the Stephanopoulites" (headed by George Stephanopolous) to fight back by rebutting and pre-butting every single Republican charge in the press corp. What kind of response plans do you have in place to deal with Fox News? Do you have plans to hire a "Fox Response Team" to be available 24/7 to make sure to answer every single lie coming from Fox News hosts? Have you hired designated hitters to counter-punch Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Shepherd Smith, Rita Crosby, Brit Hume, and Tony Snow? What kinds of plans do you have in place to destroy the credibility of the Fox News Team in the minds of the casual conservatives who watch Fox News, but don't know/realize it's an active PR unit of the GOP?

(7) Do you have a formal policy to answer every charge coming out of the Bush campaign and parroted by the Republican echo chamber? Do you have a specific strategy and tactical unit in place to do everything it can to undermine Bush's credibility on

(a) National/Homeland Security
(b) Economy
(c) Health Care
(d) Education (specifically un-funded No Child Left Behind and legislation cutting college Financial Aid)

If so, what is your advertising strategy on these four issues? Bush's policy effectiveness pretty much ends with Rose Garden signings, so what will you do to show that on TV?

Puppet Issues:

(8) What is your ad strategy to imply Bush answers to Tom DeLay, Republican Congressional Majority Leader, and not to Americans?

(9) What is your ad strategy to show Karl Rove running the Bush Policy Unit? What kinds of strategies are you planning to neutralize Karl Rove's profile at the White House?

(10) What are your plans to deal with any political/policy decisions that come out of Grover Norquist's weekly meetings? What are you doing now to deal with Norquist's coordination issues?

(11) Bush will raise at least $250 Million for the general campaign for himself. Now, it's a given that you're not going to raise that much money. What is your ad strategy to say that Bush is bought, paid for, and owned by his big donors, and not the American people?

General questions:

(12) What is your ad strategy to imply that "tax cuts = service cuts"? What are you doing and saying specifically to solidify in the voters' minds that every time tax cuts are signed into law, there is massive service hemmorhage?

(13) What is your ad strategy to hammer the question "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" home in the typical voter's mind? Are you looking into using clips of Ronald Reagan asking that question from 1980? Given the Republican genuflection of Reagan, are you making plans to judo-throw the Bush campaign with their own man?

(14) What plans do you have in place to deal with the Christian Right? Given how monolithic a voting bloc they are, what are you planning specifically to minimize or neutralize their effectiveness during Campaign '04? Are you willing to show how "un-Christian" the Republicans really are?

(15) What is your ad strategy to neutralize any "October surprise" issues that the Republicans will try to throw at you? Given how the GOP controls the machinery of government, how are you prepared to deal with any spurious investigations or charges that erupt during the last 30 days of the general campaign?

(16) Democratic voters are currently disgusted with their national (read Congressional) party leaders over how deferential they have been towards Bush for the last two years. They are also confused enough by Republican propaganda to actually think voting for Bush might be a good thing. What is your coordination strategy for DNC, DLC, and Congressional leadership to give Democrats as a whole "rhetorical spine" in the mind of the average voter?

The "Are you prepared to win?" questions:

(17) If you win the general election, the GOP will start to undermine you the moment after Bush hangs up for his "concession phone call" on election night. Do you have plans to keep your tactical response unit working after you win? Given that the Republican will manufacture scandal to keep you off-balance, what plans do you have in place to specifically answer every single charge they level at you starting around 11 PM EST, November 2, 2004?

(18) If we have a repeat of Election 2000, what are you specifically planning to do to make sure we aren't "out-thugged" by paid GOP congressional staffers in the disputed states?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.