Meet Dino Rossi’s newest campaign consultant: John Carlson.
From: Dino Rossi
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 5:08 PM
To: Carlson, John
Subject: In case your staff didn’t pass it on to you.
We are going after Patty every day and it has resulted in many articles on Iraq, Lobbyists ……
We have a media plan in place that’s working. We are ahead in poll after poll. She spent millions in the primary and 54% told her she shouldn’t get 6 more years to raise our taxes….. We spent $150,000 on air in the primary. Most people are not going to pay attention until after labor day anyway.
Why don’t you call me if you have questions. We are giving you plenty to talk about with the press releases below but it looks like you are not getting them.
Thanks for your help.
[Press Release links appended]
From: “Carlson, John”
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2010 18:47:17 -0700
To: Dino Rossi
Subject: RE: In case your staff didn’t pass it on to you.
Yesterday I had intended to talk about your campaign for the first 20 minutes of the show. I mentioned how well the Scott Brown event went, then played the Murray “Dino DC fundraiser” ad and pointed out that she was trying to make you look like the DC establishment while she was battling the insiders to fight for our families. I said your campaign should aggressively respond to this BS, not least because she has had dozens of DC fundraisers over the years and was taking four times more PAC money than you.
The lines absolutely caught fire. Emails had been trickling in since before the primary from people saying that you lacked “fire in the belly” or “passion”, but I wrote them off as Didier supporters. But yesterday the response that poured in wasn’t coming primarily from Didiots. They are Rossi supporters who watched the Ds mislead voters by sliming you in 2008 and were going right back to that playbook. They don’t want it to happen again. And neither do I.
What started as an extended commentary from me became two hours of listener “venting”, a number of emails, all of which said essentially the same thing, and more calls today. Not one of them was trying to get you to talk up abortion or any other social issue, but all wanted your campaign to take a tougher line on Murray. Their thinking is that if the Ds can get away with tossing mud today, they’ll throw more next week, and more the week after that. But if the tactic backfires, then maybe they’ll think twice.
FOR EXAMPLE: How about an ad stating that Patty’s deliberate misstatements reveal how “desperate she’s become to stay in Washington, DC.”? Voters across the board don’t like politicians who want to stay in Washington, DC. Tie all of her attacks on you to that motive. Not just to be in the senate, but to be “in DC” where she continues to drift out of touch.
Anyway, that’s the background on what touched all of this off. I called you yesterday to tell you, but it went straight to voice mail.
I realize there is a difference between the KVI audience and the state at large (as I tell people, KVI is the primary, KOMO is the general). But please realize that what your campaign heard these past couple days was coming from people who dearly want to see you win. And with the exception of Terri, no one wants you to win more than me. Well, OK, maybe the kids…….
First of all, let me just state for the record that I genuinely like and respect John Carlson. He’s always been incredibly gracious and helpful to me, and I tremendously enjoy our conversations both on and off the air. But… if I were Rossi, I’m not sure I’d be taking campaign advice from a guy who garnered only 39 percent of the vote against Gary Locke, for chrisakes, let alone from the crowd wisdom of the callers at KVI.
And yet, just a couple weeks after Carlson suggests “an ad stating that Patty’s deliberate misstatements reveal how ‘desperate she’s become to stay in Washington, DC.’,” that’s pretty much the ad Rossi runs:
As much as I generally like it when candidates talk for themselves, Rossi’s eye-on-the-interviewer/shit-eating-smirk demeanor does little to persuade voters that he’s got that “fire in the belly.” Furthermore, while a challenger’s goal is generally to make the election a referendum on the incumbent, Rossi’s first-person kvetching just comes off as narcissistic and defensive — you know, it’s all kinda about him. Which I suppose might even be okay, if so many voters didn’t already dislike him.
And while I know this is an extraordinarily negative year, in which challengers and incumbents alike must go extraordinarily negative in order to survive, Rossi still needs to persuade and collect about 80 percent of the undecided vote, and these are the folks who don’t trust either party. So at some point, Rossi’s gonna have to actually come out for something, other than, you know, just repealing Wall Street reform and rolling back reproductive rights.
One other concern, Dino: you might want to look into who the hell on your staff was so indiscrete as to let this private correspondence ultimately fall into my hands, as I can assure you it didn’t come from Mr. 39 Percent.
And John, when Dino confidently assures you on Sept. 2 that he’s “ahead in poll after poll,” you might want to ask him for a look at his internals. I’m just sayin’.
In the comment thread, John Carlson defends/explains his use of the term “Didiots”…
25. John Carlson spews:
“Didiots” does not refer to Clint’s voters, gang. It refers to the few of his supporters who refused to support Rossi after he won the primary because he’s not “pure” enough. Think of them the way liberals thought of Ralph Nader after the presidential race of 2000.
Of course, for the moment, by that definition, the “Didiots” still include Clint Didier himself. Still, I can empathize. In fact, that’s exactly my take on the better-than-thou Naderites who arguably cost Al Gore the election in 2000.
So in the spirit of conservative talk radio and all it stands for, I suppose it would be wrong of us to hyperbolize or decontextualize John’s statement for mere rhetorical effect or political gain.