• U.S.

Want to Win in 2008?

2 minute read

If you’re pondering a White House bid, ABC News’s Mark Halperin and the Washington Post’s John Harris have some advice. In their book The Way to Win, they offer tales from past campaigns and–with the help of former President Bill Clinton and G.O.P. impresario Karl Rove, who were interviewed for the book–tips for those who have their eyes on the Oval Office. Here’s a sampler:

•Keep control of your image Case study of what not to do: John Kerry in ’04. “The Republicans built story lines like ‘Kerry is French’ and ‘Kerry is rich,'” says Harris, successfully alienating Joe Voter. Hillary Clinton has become skilled at image control, but will she survive the scrutiny of an ’08 race?

•Ideas matter Image isn’t everything. That may seem self-evident, but to many candidates, it’s not. “A lot of people who run, say, ‘I’d like to be President,'” Halperin says. “But Clinton and Bush both entered the campaign with concrete thoughts about what they wanted to do.”

•Think about your party’s negatives A candidate’s instinct is “to stick with your own tribe,” Halperin says. But Clinton and Bush successfully addressed their parties’ weak spots, like crime for the Dems and education for the G.O.P. “By doing that,” says Halperin, “they not only appealed to independents but also strengthened their own parties.” And their own electoral fortunes.

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