Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Trump-Bush War. Phase 1

The Washington Post blares: IT'S ON. After several "unanswered" punches by Trump, Team Bush hits back. Let's take a look:

It says?
Aug 24th
Trump opens with Barbra Bush (mom) saying she doesn’t want to see Bush run--that there are other great, qualified candidates (shows Trump) and great families (shows Trump with his family). Barbara's voice-over says the Bush’s have done enough. Ends with big white (impact) font on black: MOTHER KNOWS BEST JEB!
Aug 31
Opens with JEB BUSH’S THOUGHTS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and the omnious sound of a bell. Jeb Speaks “Yes, they broke the law--but it’s not a felony--it’s an act of love”. Displays mug shots of illegal immigrants who have killed people (and Bush talking). Goes to white on black: LOVE? Then FORGET LOVE IT’S TIME TO GET TOUGH!
Sept 1
Shows black and white Trump with LIBERAL things TRUMP SAYS (and then switches SAYS to Believes): Abortion, Single-Payer, Tax increases, the stimulus package, likes Hillary (a lot). Trump saying he’s not sure why he’s registered as a Republican. Hits Trump on saying he’s lived in Manhattan New York--so his views are different than if he lived in Iowa.
Sept 2
Gives a page with seven two-choice questions. One is a liberal position. One is conservative. The last one is whether you’d prefer a candidate who shakes everyone’s hand or is a germaphobe! Then it wants your email and zipcode. Then it shows you your answer!

The Analysis

Which of these are good? What are they saying? Who's winning?

Mother Knows Best

This is a good blow. It's funny. It has a sort of "OMG! He Went There!" quality (Legal Insurrection thought he might have 'crossed a line'--but Trump didn't. Barbara has been fund-raising and the ad didn't insult her--she's fair game). Trump inserting himself as Barbara Bush's "Qualified Candidate" is certainly gratuitous--The Omnivore is certain she didn't mean him. Still, this ad plays to Jeb's biggest problem: EVERYONE who isn't already voting for him donating to him has said "No More Bushes."

Having Mom say it just amplifies that to 11.

Damage: Ouch! This is a big part of the "emasculating" that people have referred to. Calling someone's mom on them isn't an assessment of strength.

Illegal Immigrants

The highlighting of the term "LOVE" (on a black background) gets directly to the heart of why so many conservatives feel they can never support Jeb. Jeb's statement wasn't about the practicality of deporting 11MM people (something half polled Iowa voters agree with). It was about how to look at undocumented immigrants (sorry 'Foreign Invaders'). The Willie Horton stuff (showing the killer's mug shots) is just pouring jet fuel on the fire.

A note: both of these ads use bold (IMPACT) white on black text. This is stark (and maybe cheap and quick) compared to other political ads. It's also pretty "internet" (memes usually use the Impact font).

Damage: Devastating

Trump In His Own Words

The jaunty attitude helps this (the angled text). The problem is that guys like Frank Luntz have taken Trump supporters and showed them this stuff and it had zero effect. Coming from Mr. Establishment, Bush, the message has less credibility than the GOP Talk-Radio Wing which more or less stands behind Trump. In other words, this should work--but it hasn't historically. 

Furthermore, Rince Pribus and Mitt Romney legitimized Trump in 2012 (and Trump even led in 2011). This isn't easy to wash away: when someone criticizes Trump for giving to Hillary, he can often shoot back that he gave to them. That's effective. 

There's one more thing: Trump's refusal to apologize--ever--like (for the most part) at all--leads people to suspect he'll run the same campaign in the general that he is in the primary--something only Jeb and Kaisch are really trying (and from the other way). So hitting him on being inconsistent or wishy-washy looks like wishful thinking.

Finally, Trump has a deft populist touch. He's going increase taxes on Hedge Fund Managers with his financial plan. That's "raising taxes on the rich." Elite conservatives are somewhat appalled but this looks likely to be popular--even with Democrats. Maybe especially with Democrats. Nixon went to China. Trump can go (after) Hedge Fund Managers. Trump's willingness to increase his own taxes gives him a pretty firm amount of credibility.

Damage: Weaksauce. A slew of ads--or ads from a different source (Carson and Carly?) could move this message better. Coming from Jeb, it smells of desperation.

Which Candidate Are You?

The "Are You?" vs. "Which Do You Prefer?" is a little strange. The real problem here is (a) the one above--hitting Trump on his past record when he was on stage with Romney last cycle and no one complained (he was even going to speak at the convention at one point) just isn't strong. The other problem is the quiz asks for your email and ZIP code. 

In case you don't know, ZIP Codes provide almost all relevant demographic data and your email is for contacts for messaging. This barrier to seeing your results is stupid. a lot of people will scroll down after answering and then go "I'm not putting my email in" and leave. We know Jeb wants a bigger mailing list--but who thought this was a good idea?

Finally, the questions--with the exception of the last one, calling Trump a germaphobe, are just not biting. For someone being "emasculated" this doesn't hit back hard enough. True: Jeb isn't as good a mud-slinger as Trump--but he's got 120MM, can't he hire one? Like ... hire Chris Rock, or something?

Damage: Ping! (Bounces off Trump)


Jeb, more than anyone, needs to be respected for what he's done rather than who he is (his last name). Mainly, he just needs respect--to be seen as a strong statesman. Dealing with Trump is a lot like dealing with Putin--same kind of scorched earth maneuvering. Same kind of weird tactics. Same won't-back-down approach. If Jeb can't handle Trump, how he makes his case for being president at all is unclear.

Right now he's not handling Trump. No one is.

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