Jill Lepore's "The Lie Factory" in the September 24, 2012, issue of The New Yorker is facinating. Baxter and Whitaker were California Republicans. They represented many clients, not just politicians. They used their knowledge, savvy, and insights to successfully thwart attempts to create government administration and expansion of health care.
Camapign operatives and political consultants, take note! Here are some nuggets from Campaigns, Inc.
- Begin every day with a two-hour breakfast to plan the day.
- "Every voter, a consumer."
- Harper’s later reported [about the successful campaign to defeat California's Proposition 1]
“In a typical campaign they employed ten million pamphlets and leaf-lets; 50,000 letters to ‘key individuals and officers of organizations’; 70,000 inches of advertising in 700 newspapers; 3,000 spot announcements on 109 radio stations; theater slides and trailers in 160 theaters; 1,000 large billboards and 18,000 or 20,000 smaller posters.”
- Lepore continues:
In 1940, they produced materials for the Republican Wendell Willkie’s Presidential campaign, including a speaker’s manual that offered advice about how to handle Democrats in the audience: “rather than refer to the opponent as the ‘Democratic Party’ or ‘New Deal Administration’ refer to the Candidate by name only.”
- Save seventy-five per cent of your budget for the month before Election Day.
- Campaigns, Inc. created an ad agency, a newspaper wire service that sent a political clipsheet every week to "fifteen hundred 'thought leaders.'"
- Make it personal: candidates are easier to sell than issues.
- If your position doesn’t have an opposition, or if your candidate doesn’t have an opponent, invent one. "You can't beat something with nothing," [Whitaker and Baxter] liked to say.
- Pretend that you are the Voice of the People.
- Attack, attack, attack. Whitaker said, “You can’t wage a defensive campaign and win!”
- Never underestimate the opposition.
- Keep it simple. Rhyming’s good. (“For Jimmy and me, vote ‘yes’ on 3.”)
- Never explain anything. “The more you have to explain,” Whitaker said, “the more difficult it is to win support.”
- Say the same thing over and over again.
- Subtlety is your enemy. “Words that lean on the mind are no good,” according to Baxter. “They must dent it.”
- Simplify, simplify, simplify. “A wall goes up,” Whitaker warned, “when you try to make Mr. and Mrs. Average American Citizen work or think.”
- Never shy from controversy; instead, win the controversy.
- Whitaker: "if you can’t fight, PUT ON A SHOW! And if you put on a good show, Mr. and Mrs. America will turn out to see it."
- Turn your liabilities into assets!
An example of that? Campaigns, Inc. had a candidate who was "a grave, resolute man." So, their strategy involved stressing that such qualities are strengths at a time of war.
- Try not to speak for more than fifteen minutes—people get bored—and never for more than half an hour.