Many who watched last week’s second night of the Democratic debates were impressed by the thought-provoking and charismatic congressperson from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard. As a matter of fact, Gabbard dazzled viewers and as a result, was the most searched candidate on Google during and after the debate.
So why would one consider her a brand “loser” with this kind of bonafide? It’s simple — consistency is everything, in life and in branding.
Gabbard, to her credit, confronted Kamala Harris on her record with this terse attack: “Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president. But I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence … that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences, to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.”
Wow. This got the cybersphere to respond, with her Google searches dominating the Internet and making her a new favorite daughter for many to now follow. However, the “political gods” had other plans. Why? Because consistency in branding is the equivalent of honesty when it involves customers, or, in this case, voters.
It was in the final quarter of the debate where perhaps Gabbard’s humanity came to bear and overconfidence kicked in from the earlier Harris confrontation. Hubris is one of those personality flaws that many a politician possess. It can be a deal-breaker for voters and sabotage a campaign.
Gabbard stepped in it when she said this: “The problem is that this current president is continuing to betray us. We were supposed to be going after Al-Qaeda. But over years now not only have we not gone after Al-Qaeda, who is stronger today than they were (on) 9/11, our president is supporting Al-Qaeda.” Oops!
Her comment gave quarter to establishment political consultants in opposition to Gabbard, who never runs from a fight no matter the odds.
They jumped on her remark, given the criticism Ms. Gabbard has faced over her own perspectives on the Middle East stemming from a 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who has presided over atrocities in a never-ending civil war in his country.
Post-debate, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin let her have it. “Tulsi Gabbard’s Syria record shows why she can’t be president,” was the headline on Rogin’s column on the Post’s Op-Ed Page, which is not known to be friendly to President Trump.
The narrative had turned quickly from Gabbard pressing a case against Harris to her having to explain her Syria views again.
To be fair, this type of faux pas is experienced by even the seasoned politician. Joe Biden is one who immediately comes to mind when pondering examples of this type of verbal mistake. However, in the “rough and tumble” enterprise of politics, mistakes like this have no forgiveness, especially when one’s enemies are reminding the primary voting electorate that their actions are indicative of a candidate who is not ready for prime time.
One thing Gabbard can do is learn from this inopportune experience is to understand the value of consistency and in the future, consider making only one point per debate. The reason — so as not to dilute the message and secondly, not contradict one statement with another.
If and when she does this, she has a great future ahead. But only if she realizes it’s always easier when you have marketing and branding in mind.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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