Just as Jeff recently reprinted from the first edition of Young American Revolution, we recognize that political success is only honorable if we stand for principle, and that liberty will only prevail if we win politically.
To embody this axiom, the mission of Young Americans for Liberty is to train, educate, and mobilize youth activists committed to “winning on principle.”
In order to advance our mission and Jeff’s promise in that article, I’m proud to announce this exclusive bi-weekly email titled, “The Winning on Principle Newsletter” that you should have received in your inbox today.
Before you scroll down to read, please allow me to explain its purpose.
The Winning on Principle Newsletter is designed to clearly articulate effective strategies, tactics, and ideas that you can use on campus or on a campaign. Our goal is to equip YAL members with practical political knowledge, so you know how to win with our principled message.
Every other week, YAL’s Executive Director, Jeff Frazee, and I will share with you a new lesson from campaign experts and lifelong activists who have dedicated their lives to the political process.
Nearly all of these lessons you will never hear in school. That is why we believe the Winning on Principle Newsletter is a valuable source of information. It’s an investment in our movement.
If you truly believe in our cause, then you owe it to our philosophy to learn how to win. And with information like this, win we shall.
Jeff Frazee Jared Fuller
Executive Director, YAL Southeastern Regional Director, YAL
RAND PAUL’S MOMENT
DECONSTRUCTING RAND’S NATIONAL DEBUT by DON RASMUSSEN
The Rand Paul primary campaign has been an exercise in message discipline, image control, and managerial competence that should be broadly admired and studied.
If you know anything about me, then you know what drives me is arming the freedom movement with the tools, skills, and experience necessary to drive political success. That is one of the reasons that this is such an exciting moment for our movement. It also makes last week puzzling, but it does provide some important lessons for aspiring campaign strategists and candidates.
THE VICTORY PARTY
Three “Do nots”:
- “Do not book a room you cannot fill.”
- “Do not miss any opportunity to visually reinforce your campaign message.”
- “Do not contradict your desired narrative.”
The carefully cultivated narrative of the Rand Paul campaign has been that Rand is a populist. He stands with the people over the powerful, demands economic restraint, and gives voice to the angry “silent majority.” The decision to hold his primary victory party at a private country club runs counter to that narrative. He never should have been put in that position.
A good part of political marketing is stagecraft. When the cameras are on, you always want to put your candidate in a room that is slightly smaller than the anticipated crowd. The excitement level and revelry of packed crowds comes through well on the TV and Youtube. The energy motivating the volunteers, supporters, and voters feeds into his campaign narrative of broad popular appeal. By having a victory party outside, the crowd noise was dissipated. It sounded like 12 people were cheering him on while millions watched from home.
Additionally, behind the podium on Tuesday was the endless blackness of the Kentucky night. This is like buying a million dollar Super Bowl ad and then running 30 seconds of dead air. Visuals should always reinforce the message.
Another concern of mine is framing Rand as the poster child of the Tea Party movement.
This worked very well in a closed Republican primary. But, by failing to mention traditional Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats in Kentucky in his victory speech, he signals to Kentucky voters that he is solely a Tea Party candidate.
Pigeon holing your candidacy is a great gift to the media and the Left. And, that brings me to my second point.
NOT ALL INTERVIEWS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Lessons as a candidate:
- “As a candidate, you should only talk to your voters and donors.”
- “As a candidate, you should keep a consistent, repeatable, and easily understood message.”
In the wake of the infamous Rachel Maddow interview, I think Senator Jon Kyl summarized it best. The interview was “having a debate like you had at 2 a.m. in the morning when you’re going to college, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with anything.”
And that was just it. Rand looked like he was having a college debate at 2 a.m. in the morning with someone he erroneously trusted. His day started before 4 a.m. with a relentless media schedule all day. For him, the 10 p.m. Rachel Maddow interview must have felt like 2 a.m. Especially after staying up late the night before celebrating his primary victory.
To me, he looked exhausted. But this is a direct result of too much media in one day for a usually disciplined candidate. Again, he should have never been put in this situation.
He would have been better served to schedule a handful of national interviews (short and narrowly focused), and do as much state and local media as the campaign could book before lunch. Then, he should have spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying his victory with his family.
The day after a primary win is not the frantic last days of his campaign. Andrew Napolitano will wait. The election is five months away, and you’re 25 points up in the polls. Step back, catch your breath, and move forward thoughtfully and deliberately.
The Lesson: “The first step in putting out a fire is depriving it of fuel.”
The “Maddow story” might have been a one cycle dust-up if not for two things. One is that it feeds the media establishment and the Left with an existing narrative that the national Republican establishment is worried about. Secondly, Thursday’s response was worse than Wednesday’s gaffe.
Rand’s written statement should have been his final word. But, instead he got up again Thursday morning for the interview circuit to revise and extend his earlier remarks. Moreover, he continued to field hypothetical questions and kept walking away from his initial misplaced, but principled, position. This kept the story alive and added more fuel to the fire. Now, he has another problem. He’s coming off like a two-stepping politician.
Surrogates could have carried his water and deflected the spotlight. Damage control starts with the Hippocratic Oath, “do no harm.” That means not feeding the story with more fuel. You have to make your case and then turn off the mic.
In conclusion, this campaign is a laboratory for finding how to market our message and how to deflect the inevitable attacks that will come our way. We would all do well to reflect on these lessons here.
Up until now, I have marveled at the the considerable successes of the Rand Paul campaign. Rand and his staff have been near flawless. He has generated earned media, used political technology effectively, and maintained message discipline. More important, he galvanized support and mobilized voters.
After all, we should not dwell on these misteps, but instead we should learn from them. And remember, Rand is doing more for our movement except for one other man – his father. For that, we should give thanks.
FINDING CANDIDATES FOR LIBERTY
WINNING WITHOUT COMPROMISE by AARON BITERMAN
One of the most frustrating moments in electoral politics is getting behind a losing candidate. Losing candidates may educate voters in a particular area or region, but collective memory is short, and the information they provide will soon be forgotten.
It’s time for our winning message to actually win.
In the next issue of YAL’s Winning on Principle Newsletter, Aaron Biterman will offer a few recommendations for selecting candidates who represent freedom well and also have a shot at winning the election.