Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 29, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 29, 2014

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his eighth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on July 29, 1927.

Congress passed legislation establishing the National Aeronautic and Space Admininistration (NASA) on July 29, 1958.

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” became their first #1 hit on July 29, 1967.

Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the long jump at the Atlanta Olympics on July 29, 1996.

Oops! You mean I wasn’t supposed to post that?

Someone apparently posted the Michelle Nunn campaign plan (or at least a version of it). From National Review, who have posted the entire memo:

Michelle Nunn can come across as a “lightweight,” “too liberal,” not a “real Georgian.” While she served as CEO for the Points of Light Foundation, the organization gave grants to “inmates” and “terrorists.” And her Senate campaign must feature images of her and her family “in rural settings with rural-oriented imagery” because the Atlanta-based candidate will struggle to connect with rural voters.

These may sound like attacks from the Senate candidate’s Republican rival, but in fact, those are a few of the concerns expressed in her own campaign plan, which sources say was posted online briefly in December and appears to have been drafted earlier that month. Drawing on the insights of Democratic pollsters, strategists, fundraisers, and consultants, the document contains a series of memos addressed to Nunn and her senior advisers.

From all appearances, the document was intended to remain confidential. It outlines the challenges inherent in getting Nunn, who grew up mostly in Bethesda, Md., elected to the Senate in a state with a large rural population. Her father, Sam Nunn, was elected to the Senate when she was six, and Michelle Nunn attended Washington’s prestigious National Cathedral School and then the University of Virginia and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government before returning to Georgia to do nonprofit work and, now, to seek higher office.

The documents reveal the campaign’s most sensitive calculations. Much of the strategizing in the Georgia contest, as is typical in southern politics, revolves around race. But the Nunn memos are incredibly unguarded. One is from Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster and strategist who counts among her clients Minnesota senator Al Franken, South Carolina representative James Clyburn, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Feldman, who did not return calls seeking comment, is frank in her characterization of the demographic groups — Jews, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, and gays — that are essential to a Democratic victory. The Nunn campaign declined to comment about the document on the record.

The campaign’s finance plan draws attention to the “tremendous financial opportunity” in the Jewish community and identifies Jews as key fundraisers. It notes, however, that “Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here.” That’s a position she has yet to articulate — her message on the subject is marked “TBD” in the document — and Israel goes unmentioned on her campaign website.

The National Review story and analysis are worth reading in their entirety, and you can download your very own copy of the campaign plan there.

Here’s the takeaway:

1. Nunn faces problems connecting with rural voters and should appeal to them by pretending to be more like them than the cosmpolitan DC-Atlanta hybrid she really is.

2. Gays and Asians have money and that’s what they’re good for to the Nunn campaign.

3. African-Americans and Hispanics have votes and she wants those too.

4. They expect the media to treat her better than she deserves because she’s a Democrat.

5. Points of Light, under her leadership, processed $33,000 in donations for a group linked to Hamas, an international terrorist group.

6. Jews have money too, and she wants that, though she doesn’t know what she thinks about Israel.

7. The magic number of white votes she needs is about 30% – Max Cleland took 30% when he lost in 2002, but greater numbers of African-American and Hispanic votes can get her over the top. Other Democratic statewide candidates have gotten around 24-26% of white votes.

8. Michelle Nunn understands and is counting on liberal interest groups and SuperPACs to spend $17 million on her behalf, despite her public hand-wringing about the corrosive effect of unlimited outside money in politics.

Time also looked through the memo and offers this:

The documents warn of weak spots stemming from Nunn’s role as CEO of a nonprofit foundation. They reveal the campaign’s clinic[al] assessment of how it must mobilize traditional liberal constituencies, like African-Americans, Jews and Asians. And they expose the campaign’s plan to sell Nunn with “rural” imagery that might soften up Georgia voters skeptical of a candidate reared partly in the suburbs of Washington, where her father served as a Georgia senator.

Beyond the potentially damaging aspects, the memos offer a rare, unvarnished glimpse into the mechanics of running a campaign. They cover everything from scrubbing a voter file to modeling turnout (1.4 million votes is Nunn’s magic number, according to a memo from Democratic strategist Diane Feldman). The documents map the architecture of Nunn’s outreach machine and detail which constituencies to target. Much of the information will reinforce negative impressions of how campaigns work, including suggestions for how to drive a message week-by-week and the ways it can whack Republican opponents.

The mechanics of the campaign being leaked aren’t particularly damaging – the recipe to the secret sauce is not really secret, and besides, no plan stays static in a major campaign. It’s the pragmatic way in which groups of people are analyzed for what Michelle Nunn can get out of them that’s problematic for her. From

Republicans called such a campaign leak unprecedented.

“Never before has a Senate campaign openly admitted that its number one objective is to deceive voters and hide a candidate’s true beliefs from public view,” National Republican Senatorial Committee political director Ward Baker said in a statement. “The hundred plus pages of Michelle Nunn’s campaign plan reveals a deliberate effort to manipulate Georgia voters and hide the fact that Nunn’s campaign is a proxy for the agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid. The entire Nunn plan is dirty, offensive, and emblematic of why voters are so disenchanted with politics.”

Back to Time for this lesson in political history:

In short, the memos are a classic example of what is known in Washington as a Kinsley gaffe: when a politician errs by accidentally revealing the truth. (The phenomenon is named after the journalist Michael Kinsley, who coined the phenomenon.) The existence of the memos is not a surprise; any campaign worth its salt undertakes a study of its perceived weaknesses. The Nunn memos are remarkable less for their judgments than for the fact that a hapless adviser apparently posted them on the Internet.

And finally this nice little tidbit:

“Currently, there are no plans to vet donors to the campaign”

Nunn announced this month she would return money donated to her by Virtual Murrell, who was convicted of bribery in 1995 and reportedly had ties to the Blank Panther Party. Her campaign said she was unaware of his background when he co-hosted a Capitol Hill fundraiser for her.

Back in December, a document explaining the research department’s role said it would “vet individuals with whom the campaign associates — most frequently for events and site visits.”

“This vet includes a check for criminal records, ‘bad news’ stories, and inflammatory statements that could reflect poorly on the campaign,” one of the memos said. “Currently, there are no plans to vet donors to the campaign.”

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