Friday, July 21, 2006

A tangled mess of messages

In 2004 Bob Corker declared that he did not intend to spend his own money in his U.S. Senate bid. He said then - and has said up until about a week ago - that he was counting on strong grass roots support from Republicans across Tennessee to finance his campaign.

Yesterday Corker disclosed that he had spent every penny raised for his primary election and that he had been "forced" to deposit an additional $1.745 million of his personal fortune in recent weeks to keep his campaign afloat.

Who forced him to write a personal check? According to Corker its the two primary opponents he claims have no real support and who pose no real threat to his "commanding" lead in the polls.

The spin from Camp Corker was that the attacks by "Mr. Ed" and "Van Dame" were distorting Corker's "record," and that the extra cash was needed to "set the record straight."

I admire a good spin, but this political yarn is one tangled mess of messages.

Let's try to untangle it a bit.

Back then....
- Camp Corker bragged about money "pouring in from grassroot Republicans."
- Camp Corker launched a massive TV blitz months ahead of his primary opponents.
- His two primary opponents finally went up on TV with low budget, weak message ads in select markets.
- Camp Corker consistently boasted of a strong, steady lead over his primary opponents in the polls.

But now...
- Camp Corker divides the Republican party further by ignoring earlier pledges and viciously turning on his primary opponents, attacking them by name in a new ad.
- We learn that this vicious attack ad is being funded out of Corker's own personal pocket since his alleged "grassroots" well has run dry so early.
- Camp Corker says he was "forced" into "setting the record straight" in these final days before the primary election because his primary opponents' attacks seem to be getting traction.
- Camp Corker sheepishly confirms that their man dumped a wad of personal cash into campaign coffers on July 14 to keep the campaign afloat.
- Corker continues to pound the pavement and lobbyist doors on K Street in Washington for more "grassroots Republican" cash.
- And just this week a new Knoxville News Sentinel poll shows the primary race tightening between Corker and "Mr. Ed."

So what does all this tell us? Here's my take.

Corker's commanding lead over his primary opponents reflects name recognition with shallow "grass" roots.

Corker's internal polling shows voters - Dems as well as GOPers - are unsettled over his flip flopping record on issues like abortion, taxes, pay raises, immigration, etc.

Corker's efforts at pulling the GOP behind him were getting zero traction (outside of the high brow biz crowd) so he's decided to throw caution to the wind by turning on the two primary opponents whose bases he will need to win a general election.

Despite his best efforts to suck $$ from DC lobbyists, he's not had much success there.

Will Corker continue to divide the GOP further by maintaining his personal attacks against his fellow Republican primary opponents. Yup.

Will Corker continue to have to drop his own $$ into his coffers at the risk of appearing to "buy his nomination." Yup.

Will this all continue to be a tangled mess for Bob. Yup.


Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I got lost somewhere in the spin.
Question: Do you think Van will drop out and endorse Ed? Some of our conservative counterparts think that will happen, or is that just wishful thinking on their part?
Secondly, if that were to happen, don't you think Harold would have a tougher time with Ed? (East TN is the obvious)
What do you think of the above hypothetical?

2:49 AM  
Blogger Milton said...

I'm interested to know what Mike thinks, but I, for one, think there is zero chance that Van will drop out. I think Bryant's people are pushing that rumor. Word is they pushed it out there every other time that it popped up.

It's too late to pull out of the race, for one. About half of Tennesseans vote early now, so a lot of voters have already done so. Van can't take his name off the ballot, so some people would still vote for him on election day anyway. And a loss means the end of Van's political career. Pulling out now is the same as a loss. Why surrender now and let the other guys shoot him in the head? If you're going down, go down with guns blazing.

Also, who knows what could happen in the last two weeks? Maybe Bryant and Corker confess their love for one another and run off to a love nest in Cancun . . .

Wouldn't that be great?

3:41 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

That last paragraph made me laugh until I got a visual on it, and now I think I will have nightmares!

I think it's too late for Van to pull out as well. As you aptly pointed out, his name is on the ballot and we're into early voting.

From a purely objectively political standpoint, Van surely knows he can't win. With that in mind, wouldn't he at least appear(emphasis on *appear*) to be gracious if he dropped out and supported Bryant?

I've certainly seen some odd races in my lifetime, but none quite as snarky as this U.S. Senate race. (R)

BTW, you and or Kopp, come up and say "Hello" to me on the 4th. I'm sure we're going to be at the same place.

5:29 PM  
Blogger imissbill said...

It's the 3rd now, if you mean what I think you mean. I'd love to meet all of you too. If you see Alicia (how many could there be?), say hello.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

It got moved from the 4th to the 3rd? I didn't get the memo!
I suppose it makes sense, though...watching the election returns with BC might make national.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I got the memo today. Now it's at 6:30, so it will be a celebration. Guess it makes sense.
Like I said, come up and say "Hello."

12:17 PM  
Blogger Milton said...

The Clinton thing got moved to the 3rd? I hadn't heard, but that sounds like a better date to me. Doing it on election night should steal some press from the Repubs.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Same place--just 6:30 on the 3rd instead of 5:15 on the 4th.
Good strategy--moving the date to the eve of election returns.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Milton said...


Thanks for the info. I'll be there. Wonder how many thousand people this will pull in?

4:29 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

A lot! There is a private lunch at 10 thousand...unless that changed, then at the 150 deal I bet there will be several hundred people.

5:52 PM  
Blogger imissbill said...


A friend on the committee told me this morning it's closer to 2,000 at the $150 event. I'll still look for you though, LOL!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Milton said...

2,000! Awesome!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

That's great! I'm glad they are having an event that is reasonably priced so many people can attend.

Clinton is my all time favorite President. I interviewed him years ago, and I really look forward to seeing him again. If ever there was a reason to get rid of the 22nd anmendment, it's BC.

You all know what I look like, so come up and say "Hello!"

10:29 PM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said... can be confusing...milton's right - with days to go van likely won't far as "Mr. Ed" being a tougher general election candidate, I have two observations...Corker has the gift of "telling convincing lies" which makes him a tougher tango partner...and Corker is willing to sell out to anyone to raise $$, even big oil (see CA story this morning)...

7:45 AM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

I'll miss all of you on the 3rd..."I'm leaving, on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again"...if I see Cork and Mr. Ed in Cancun I'll take some Gone Wild video to share

7:47 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Regarding the election question, I think small voter turnout will work in Ed's favor. Corker has the funds, but will the Republican base turn out in East Tennessee? Even though Van has the name recognition, it's more negative than positive. I'm not ready to call the (R) U.S. Senate race just yet.

As for your second post, if you're gong to sing John Denver songs, couldn't you pick a better one? Heh!

What are you doing leaving when Bill is arriving? I am so looking forward to seeing him and hearing him speak. And darn it to heck, (How's that for me reeeeeeeally trying to be polite) I wanted to get a photo of you and me together.
I mean, Paul McCartney just kissed Yoko Ono three weeks ago,so anything is possible.

Seriously, have we actually met before? I mean, we've certainly walked down the same road at the same time, but I don't recall ever meeting you.

BTW, you mentioned video of Corker and Ed in Cancun. I think their idea of a wild time would be staying up past 10:00 PM to watch the election returns. (though I understand republicans throw much better parties than we do during the national conventions) The last one I attended was in 84 in San Francisco. I don't remember too much about it.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

10:19 PM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

if you are willing to risk your reputation posing with me for a photo, then count me in..our paths shall cross, of that I am certain

7:46 AM  
Blogger imissbill said...

Okay.......just heard another Clinton/Ford event estimate of 800 people. Still a good crowd, but far less than the previous number.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I was speaking with someone from Ford's headquarters, and he told me that students from around the state are coming for the event. (They had a student price)
I think John Legend will also draw a lot of the younger crowd.
Then there's the fact the greatest American President will be there.
I think Harold is in for a very good night, and the people who attend will have a wonderful time.
I don't know how many people the Stadium Club holds, so maybe 800-1000 is more than enough?
Y'all don't forget to say "Hello" to me!
(and if I look like I am struggling with trying to work two cameras and a tape recorder, come help me!)

3:31 AM  
Blogger imissbill said...

THEY HAD A STUDENT PRICE?? I paid $150 for my 10 year-old. I mean, I know it's a fundraiser and all, but it's not like he can vote:)

4:42 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I Miss Bill,
I think the student price was for college students. I heard about it from someone who is with the young democrats. Still, paying 150 to stand out in the heat with no water with a 10 year old...

Anyhow, I have a story and photos up on my blog from last night.
I am getting way too old to handle that kind of weather.

2:16 AM  
Blogger imissbill said...

That campaign should be ASHAMED of themselves. What a humilating mess. I feel duped. I can't believe they thought it would be acceptable to move an indoor reception in a suite (per their own promo materials and MY TICKET STUB) to an outdoor cattlefest. I am furious. FURIOUS.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I Miss Bill,
I agree. I even called them the day before the event to confirm it would be indoors and they said it would be.
I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and still recovering from very major surgery 10 months ago, and I am not supposed to be outside in this weather.
But because I had already committed to my readers that I would cover this event, I felt a responsibility to do it.
I am pretty ill today, and getting ready to go back to bed.
You should call their office and tell them how you feel. That is an awful amount of money to spend to get heat exhaustion.

8:07 AM  
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