One of the first rules in politics is that you cannot politicize certain American holidays. But like all good rules, even this one was made to be broken.
And like any good rule breaking, it all comes down to how you break the rule, not if you break it.
The Obama and Romney campaigns provided two different examples of how to handle this rule over the Memorial Day weekend.
First, the Obama campaign showed how to subtly break the “no politicizing during a holiday” rule. Throughout Colorado, and I suspect other battleground states, the Obama campaign released an ad talking about how veterans should be in our thoughts every day, not just on Memorial Day.
It was the kind of ad that, I think, will be very effective with the targeted audience, independent, middle of the road voters. Again, the Obama campaign is not interested in changing the minds of people that have no intention of ever voting for Obama. They are angling for the middle crowd.
And that middle crowd saw an ad that showed the sitting American President paying homage to our fallen veterans, reminding all of us of their sacrifice and stating an opinion about the holiday that every God-fearing American could agree with.
See, the subtle beauty of the ad was that while it was a blatant advertisement for votes, it wasn’t blatantly political. It wasn’t an attack ad and it wasn’t done in the third person. It was simply the President talking about one of our most important holidays and about our most important heroes.
But the impression the ad left on viewers who have yet to make a concrete decision about Obama is that he cares about veterans and he has his priorities straight. Opinions can be argued, but with the ad in solid rotation throughout the weekend, the odds are that he made an impression on at least a few voters.
The Romney campaign showed the Memorial Day weekend proper respect by not campaigning hard in Colorado. No noticeable increase in ads was seen, and no Memorial Day themed ads were broadcast.
While on paper, this may seem like that right and appropriate way to handle politics on a national holiday, by sitting out, the Romney campaign again handed the Obama campaign another leg up on foreign policy and national security issues.
It is not far-fetched to imagine a Romney ad that would have done and said essentially the very same thing that the Obama ad did. He could have said how veterans and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice should be remembered every day. He would have had to avoid making an attack out of the ad, but it could have been done and been done effectively.
However the Romney campaign sat this one out in Colorado. On paper, it was a respectful move. In reality, it was another step backward in the campaign.
Most of the pundits out there are predicting a very tight race that will come down to votes in just a few battleground states. If that will indeed be the case, then every opportunity that the campaigns encounter must be used for maximum effect.
Even when the rules of politics say they can’t move forward, (pun intended) they must find a way. Otherwise, they will definitely be left behind. And as we know, there is no reward for Mr. Congeniality in a Presidential race.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.