Tags: MidPoint | Matt McDonald | David Goodfriend | 2016 election

Dem, GOP Strategists Debate: 2016 Candidates Running Too Early?

By    |   Thursday, 16 April 2015 03:54 PM

With Election Day more than 18 months out — that's 571 days by the campaign clock — a consultant to the last three Republican presidential nominees says it's not too early to run even though most Americans pay the race no mind until the finish line is within sight.

Candidates introducing themselves to voters "is a process," veteran GOP strategist Matt McDonald told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Thursday. "So if you think that you are going to convince a voter to vote for you in kind of the final quarter, that's not a great strategy."

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McDonald debated how soon is too soon for presidential campaigns with David Goodfriend, a Democratic strategist and former deputy staff secretary to President Bill Clinton.

"Those of us in the political sphere … are always amazed to learn how most Americans really tune into an election very, very shortly before Election Day," said Goodfriend. "A lot of the early polling and a lot of the early modeling is irrelevant because people's attention — true attention, focusing on the issues and the candidates — really comes fairly late in the game."

McDonald agreed that voters decide "later" who to support.

"But they are getting to know the candidates, deciding whether these candidates share their values, what the attributes of these candidates are, how they feel about them, all along the way," he said.

"It's like any other relationship where you're making a friend or you're going out on a first date, or anything like that," he said, "and those first impressions that are happening today matter down the road. And it really is a build over time, as people get to know people."

The idea, said McDonald, is to "practice like you play."

Goodfriend said that polling and election forecasting matter more once the January-to-June primary season gets underway.

"But if we're just talking about the general election, people's attention to it and their focus on the candidates very often occurs much later than we politicos would like to admit," he said.

McDonald discussed the changing fortunes of one possible 2016 candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who hasn't declared and has political troubles at home, but is visiting New Hampshire and said on Wednesday that he would win in a contest with the undisputed Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"If I run, I will beat her," Christie told radio host Hugh Hewitt, describing a scenario in which he takes swing states including Pennsylvania, New Mexico and New Hampshire that went for President Barack Obama in 2012 over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"That's one of Chris Christie's attributes, that he is a presence on the campaign trail and he leaves an impression in people's minds," said McDonald.

"And this is early, so the people who are following this are real junkies, and that's great," he said. "But over time, candidates have to be real careful about how they play into process arguments or this state or that state. They want to be focused on their message and what they're going to do for people and what they're bringing to the table for people, and ultimately connecting with people and not pundits."

With Clinton hoping to win the prize Democratic voters denied her in 2008, Goodfriend said her re-introduction came on Sunday with the short video he described as "a portrayal of America through her eyes: a very diverse America, but an America concerned about being able to keep up economically."

"So what you'll find, come next month when the campaign is formalized, is a policy answer to a lot of the issues that she's framing now," he said.

McDonald said that Clinton, for the time being, will be "less of a story as compared to all of the action … on the Republican side," and that she needs to use that space "to really articulate what the rationale for her candidacy is.

"Because that is what tripped her up in '08 against Obama the first time," said McDonald, "and it doesn't seem like she's solved the answer to that question yet."

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With Election Day more than 18 months out, a consultant to the last three Republican presidential nominees says it's not too early to run even though most Americans pay the race no mind until the finish line is within sight.
Matt McDonald, David Goodfriend, 2016 election
Thursday, 16 April 2015 03:54 PM
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