So far, there are two announced Republican presidential candidates. Rand (Goldilocks) Paul, and Ted (Carnival) Cruz. The only acknowledged Democrat front-runner so far is Hilary (Bad News) Clinton. Clinton is thus far the only one of the three NOT to announce her candidacy at a live gathering. That may be the result of her vast experience in public life. She knows that while the enthusiasm of a live rally is contagious for a day or two, the possibilities of something bad occurring are multiplied. The ability to control the environment and message during such an announcement is vital.
Nothing untoward happened to either Cruz or Paul during their announcements, but in the short time following the kickoffs, they have both shown an unnerving propensity for slightly melting down when grilled by the press. Just a week after his ballyhooed start, Paul has managed to be antagonized three different times by reporters, and Cruz has been contentious multiple times with the press as well.
Now, we all know there is an uneasy alliance between the press and politicians at best. But for candidates, and those in public life, it’s a fact of life that must be understood and dealt with accordingly. As a reporter by trade, I have grilled candidates for office quite a lot, including presidential hopefuls, and I am here to tell them both, it won’t get any easier. In fact, if you are having so much difficulty this early on, you both may want to think about calling it off.
Episodes like these are precisely why candidates have press secretaries and so-called ‘handlers’. Outsiders, and even supporters can mock the need for these folks all they want, but they serve as a vital buffer and tool for any office-holder, or candidate-particularly during a campaign. Moreover, it’s vital that candidates actually LISTEN to the advice given by those people.
Contrary to what either Cruz or Paul may think, a lack of control or show of temper this early, can not only hurt, but can doom a campaign before it begins. It’s nothing new, and history is rife with examples, like the “Crying Incident”, when Ed Muskie imploded over false allegations over his wife’s behavior by a New Hampshire newspaper publisher. It was a simple show of emotion by Muskie, who was until then the front-runner–and it derailed his run immediately.
Yes, it could happen to you all, so beware.
As for Clinton, she has a different problem. After a long life lived in public, she has serious baggage to deal with. Yes, she burnished her credentials as Secretary Of State, but there is also Server-Gate, and Benghazi still looming in the background.
Bottom line–if you’re going to run. LISTEN TO YOUR PRESS PEOPLE!!