Posted: 9:00 am Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The Michelle Nunn media relations strategy 

By Daniel Malloy and Greg Bluestein

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to her supporters after her Tuesday nomination. AP/ /Akili-Casundria Ramsess

Leaked campaign details for Michelle Nunn’s Senate campaign puts her political strategy in the spotlight.  AP/ /Akili-Casundria Ramsess

The Michelle Nunn strategy memos are sure to be a topic of conversation through November. Among the most bandied about sections among media types — navel-gazing folk that we are — is how the campaign deals with the press.Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog

First, here’s the big picture view on us ravenous, gaffe-hungry beasts:

“The communications department’s first and foremost responsibility is to ensure that the candidate and all parts of the campaign adhere to the message that the senior team has agreed upon. In the zero sum game of elections, resources that a campaign spends advancing a message different from the one that will persuade the most voters is time and resources wasted. In fact – in 21st century campaigns with wall-to-wall media coverage and super-pacs able to put millions of dollars behind video behind a single cell-phone video – a slight deviation from the agreed upon message could end up being very damaging to the campaign.

“The political press is not inclined to cover a candidate repeating their message. In fact, many reporters see their job as getting the candidate to “reveal” what their “true” inclinations and orientation may lay or to cause a gaffe. Any deviation from that message will be newsworthy to them. They also understand that effective candidates and campaigns stick to their message, and will see a deviation in message as an erred campaign or candidate.”

The key to enforcing such discipline is to create a Q-and-A booklet and drill the candidate relentlessly on it. Also, one must give the press events to cover that amplify the message, while cultivating relationships like so:

“Pitching information and scoops to reporters is the lifeblood of reporter/operative relationships. This is almost always spontaneous and hard to plan for – hooks for stories develop based on what’s going on in the race and what’s being covered at the time. The constant pitching and communications with reporters is also good for developing relationships between the campaign and the press corps that can be leveraged to affect coverage. …

“There will come a time when our opponents are shoveling research against our campaign. Part of the communications department’s job (in conjunction with research) is to leverage relationships and find the material to push back against negative research hits. Often we will have fair warning and can work to kill or muddy the story. Sometimes we will get little to no heads up and will be forced to publicly respond to the attack or story.”

Some have interpreted this as the Nunn campaign assuming the media is in the tank for them. We cannot speak to the thinking of the unnamed author of this memo, but “fair warning” in our case generally means that when writing about the Nunn campaign — or David Perdue campaign or whomever — the campaign is asked for comment on accusations or critical facts.

***

There were plenty of reactions to be had to the memo throughout the Interwebs. Here’s our big picture premium/print edition story that takes a look at the Hamas issue and the relentless focus on fundraising.

Over in the AJC opinion section, left-leaning Jay Bookman says “I don’t think there’s much there” while right-leaning Kyle Wingfield calls it “damaging.”

The David Perdue campaign swiftly called attention to the memo with a microsite on “The Nunn Plan” that includes a handy donation button, so folks can fight back against said plan with their wallets.

George Chidi at Peach Pundit, an African-American Democrat, is dismayed by the lack if minority faces listed in Nunn’s inner circle:

“Georgia is awash in African American attorneys and highly-educated executives with policy experience who would leap at an opportunity to advise a senator. But even on the proposed voter protection team – the group of campaign attorneys who will guard against voter intimidation and polling place shenanigans faced by Black and Latino voters — every one of the eleven people listed is white. 

“I know, I know. Planning document. It’s still transparently stupid and insulting. This is Georgia. I was not aware that there’s a shortage of highly-qualified African-American voting rights attorneys in Georgia. The idea that someone putting a planning document together wouldn’t view that as an oversight is a red flag.”

The GA Voice points out that although Nunn has publicly said she supports same-sex marriage personally but wants it left up to the states as a matter of policy, the memo hints at a stronger stance when it anticipates raising $300,000 from the LGBT community:

“Michelle’s positions on gay marriage and the [Human Rights Campaign] endorsement provide a huge opportunity for mobilizing this community and their substantial resources.

“Message: I believe everyone has the right to enjoy the commitments and benefit of marriage to the person they love. This is not a position shared by my opponents, so I hope you’ll join me on this journey and lend me your full support so we can win this race.”

When it comes to garnering an expected $250,000 in fundraising from the Jewish community, the memo states: “Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here.”

Another note the memo makes when breaking down racial groups is this comparison between Asian Americans and Latinos:

“While this [Asian] community isn’t as large as Latino/as, it is very tight, works to become citizens quickly and has higher voter participation than many other ethnic constituencies. This is a community more likely to be a fundraising base than some of the others.”

***

Some other memo tidbits we found interesting:

- This section came back to bite the campaign with the Virtual Murrell imbroglio:

“The Research Department will also vet individuals with whom the campaign associates — most frequently for events and site visits. This vet includes a check for criminal records, ‘bad news’ stories, and inflammatory statements that could reflect poorly on the campaign. Currently, there are no plans to vet donors to the campaign.”

- There was no formal plan laid out in the documents to meddle in the Republican primary, beyond having the Democrat-funded tracker following the GOP candidates to come up with a list of key events: “This will allow us to proactively reach out to event organizers to determine if any of the candidates plan to attend and to plant questions when appropriate.”

- The memo reveals that Nunn’s debate prep will be led by Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden, who has advised Democratic presidential debaters for years.

- In order to hit its national fundraising goals, the memo predicts “we will need at least one ‘signature’ fundraising event in Atlanta and one in New York and/or Washington that brings out celebrity and party hosts (Clintons) to raise $250,000 each in Q3.” We have heard no word of a Clinton/Nunn fundraiser, as of yet.

- The memo indicates the Nunn camp might not have the “stomach” for direct mail fundraising. “The strategies at question here are the proven techniques of direct mail, giving the reader ‘red meat’ and providing enough ‘contrast’ to generate an emotional response that results in mailing a check.”

- The full document, if you have the time, is a great lesson for any junkie who wants a peek into the inner workings of a big-time Senate campaign, from budgets to schedules to media management.

***

Meanwhile, Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign is trying to jump on this bandwagon. Absent a damaging leak from Democrat Jason Carter’s campaign, Deal spokeswoman Jen Talaber offers this:

“It looks like someone erased Carter’s name off the memo. He and Michelle Nunn are working from the same playbook when it comes to talking about serious issues—dodge, duck or redirect.”

***

This morning, we heard from state Rep. B.J. Pak, a Gwinnett Republican who is among the most prominent Asian-Americans in elected office. He took issue with the memo’s description of Asians as “validators” and potential donors who work to “become citizens quickly.”

Pak said Asian Americans are far from monolithic, noting that some 31,000 Asian Pacific Americans in Georgia live below the poverty line. Said Pak:

“Her campaign messages of “just give us your money,” and “call me when you become a citizen” show how out of touch she is.  Instead of addressing the struggles of Asian American working families, it appears Michelle Nunn sees our community only as a means to leverage money and influence.  Georgia deserves better — and I am sure that once the members of the Asian American community “become citizens quickly,” they will “validate” my views at the ballot box.”

***

Remember that Republican runoff election? Seems like ages ago now. But FiveThirtyEight has a breakdown of the electorate showing:

“On Tuesday, the drop-off in turnout was pretty uniform across counties. That is, it’s unlikely that pollsters overestimated turnout in strong Kingston areas and underestimated turnout in Perdue areas. …

“In fact, had turnout been the same as in May, Perdue still would have won. His margin of victory in this hypothetical, 0.8 percentage points, is slightly less than his actual margin, 1.8 points — so maybe turnout played a small role. But that is not a major difference, and certainly not enough to explain Tuesday night’s pollster error.”

***

In the premium version of today’s story on Nunn’s memo, we quote Sam Zamarripa, the former state senator and a leader of Latino advocacy group Uno Georgia.

Zamarripa shared with us some of the findings of his group’s June conference, attended by dozens of Latino leaders, aimed at increasing the Hispanic community’s voter participation in Georgia in November.

Of the conferences attendees, some 85 percent rated economic development the top priority, then education opportunities followed by immigration reform.

He sees that as an inkling of evidence that the economy, and not immigration, is top of mind to Georgia’s growing immigration population – and reason for both parties to tailor their message to this burgeoning community.

“A majority of campaigns always assume that a few Spanish words at the end of a speech is sufficient,” said Zamarripa, who added:

“They assume that Latinos line up for Democrats. And there’s some truth to that. But the universe of Latinos is far from homogenous. It still trends blue, but they have principals that are aligned with the right. And for most of us who have watched this closely, Latinos don’t know exactly what they are – and they’re looking for someone to talk to them.”

***
Who are you calling a fiscal conservative? Gov. Nathan Deal’s camp takes issue with former President Jimmy Carter using that phrase to describe his grandson, the gubernatorial contender.

In a note to supporters, the campaign cited state Sen. Jason Carter’s vote against Deal’s budget, his embrace of Medicaid expansion and a call to increase education spending without specifying where the funds are coming from.

Says spokeswoman Jen Talaber: “Senator Jason Carter may claim he’s a fiscal conservative, but his record proves otherwise.”

***

The two-day EPA hearing on new clean air regulations, which starts today in Atlanta, should be quite the circus. Kristina Torres set up the scene in Monday’s paper.

Today at noon, Americans for Prosperity will hold a big rally at the Sam Nunn federal building protesting that the new regulations will kill jobs. But from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the same spot, the Climate Reality Project — which takes the opposing view — will be handing out free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to hammer home the point that it’s too hot.

And yet, they are both scheduled to be in the wrong place. Your irony alert, also from Torres:

A hearing this week on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “clean power” plan to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions nationwide has been moved because of ongoing electrical problems at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center on Forsyth Street downtown.

The hearing will now be held at the Omni Hotel, at 100 CNN Center across the street from Centennial Olympic Park.

52 comments
peewilly
peewilly

@PSWALLACE


HMMMM, Makes you wonder if we should have left well enough alone. Doesn't it?



PSWallace
PSWallace

Regarding the outreach to affinity groups--one of the reasons why I will not support the Democratic Party, and will not probably have much of anything to do with Atlanta in its multi-cultural future, is that post-1964 we were not to unify ourselves by race, and now it is the only thing a certain segment thinks about.

It could take twenty years for this kind of cancer to work itself out in Atlanta. I have no intention of wasting my time there as it does.  

peewilly
peewilly

@Maryelizabethsings


"It is because she is a woman with character and substance."


I agree ,Mary Martin aka Mary None, is a character  for sure. Cartoon character.


I agree also she is on a substance to think she can win this race. No platform at all.

JaySly
JaySly

why didn't the democrats put up a stronger candidate to go against perdue than the lightweight michelle nunn with no track record, weak experience, hard left liberal, hamas supporter, ....???? hello???

Stuffy
Stuffy

For the most part, all this hullaboo about the memo is nothing. It's strategy but let's get real. They all do it. However this did give me pause: 


“Georgia is awash in African American attorneys and highly-educated executives with policy experience who would leap at an opportunity to advise a senator. But even on the proposed voter protection team – the group of campaign attorneys who will guard against voter intimidation and polling place shenanigans faced by Black and Latino voters — every one of the eleven people listed is white. 

“I know, I know. Planning document. It’s still transparently stupid and insulting. This is Georgia. I was not aware that there’s a shortage of highly-qualified African-American voting rights attorneys in Georgia. The idea that someone putting a planning document together wouldn’t view that as an oversight is a red flag.”



 Michelle, you can NOT win this race without the Black vote. You want to rectify this situation and quickly. The Black power structure is watching and if they think they are being ignored, you are not going to Washington it's as simple as that. If your plan is to appeal to moderate or independent White voters and ignore the AA community because you don't want to seem too liberal then your campaign is lost already. There are not enough moderate or independent, let alone White liberals for you to win without us. You have your warning, you would be wise to heed it. 



MoFaux
MoFaux

Does ANYONE on here, particularly the self-described conservatives, honestly believe that Nunn's campaign is the ONLY campaign that generalizes race with regards to getting votes?  I mean, this is a PLANNING document.  If you were a fly on the wall in Deal and/or Perdue's campaign planning meetings, you would hear very similar generalizations.  It's called PLANNING and STRATEGY for a reason.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Republicans need to wake up, and pull support completely for Israel, until the Jewish community in the US stops funding their opposition.  It's political suicide to enable the Dems to both pander to the Arab community for votes by trashing Israel, while pulling in massive amounts of cash from the Jewish community. 


And until the Reps pull their support, they will enable the Dems to continue this "best of both worlds" strategy.


Now..once the Reps wake up, and pull support, the US Jewish community will have no one but themselves to blame for Israel's complete destruction.

DS
DS

It's funny to see the Deal campaign question Carter's standing as a fiscal conservative. Being a fiscal conservative doesn't mean you never spend any money; it means you spend it wisely and within your means.

Suppose somebody moved into your neighborhood and never mowed his yard, never painted his house, never kept his car washed, never did routine care and maintenance of his property. Would you call him a fiscal conservative, or a bum? I'd call him a bum.

Being a responsible property owner means he should take care of his stuff and keep it in good working order. He could do that and still be a fiscal conservative as long as he didn't try to live beyond his means.

I think Jason Carter believes that we can help Georgia prosper by investing wisely and prudently in education, infrastructure and business development. We should take good care of our state assets while living within our means. We shouldn't be like the bum neighbor who lets his property fall into disrepair and decline.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

I disagree with state Rep. B.J. Pak, a Gwinnett Republican's assessment that Asians are not “validators” and potential donors who work to “become citizens quickly.”  What else would explain 31,000 Asian Pacific Americans living below the poverty line supporting a GOP agenda that clearly will not do anything to give them a hand up.  Perhaps in his next town hall meeting his invite can say  BYOP (bring your own pee) if you want to eat.  Now, to Mr. Sam Zamarripa, the former state senator and a leader of Latino advocacy group Uno Georgia if "Latinos don’t know exactly what they are – and they’re looking for someone to talk to them.”  Tell them to turn on Fox news or listen to the Rush Limbaugh show for a dose of reality.  Both of these individuals in my book are nothing more than snake oil salesmen and they are disgusting. 

She say to Sofia, All your children so clean, she say, would you like to work for me, be my maid?~~~The Color Purple

EdUktr
EdUktr

That's why the Democrats have YOU, Jim: to spin things like this away.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"The memo indicates the Nunn camp might not have the 'stomach' for direct mail fundraising”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Michelle Nunn may not have the 'stomach' for 'red meat' direct mail fundraising, but that is not because she lacks internal fortitude.  It is because she is a woman with character and substance.


To the African-Americans in Georgia, I want you to know that I am one of Michelle Nunn's supporters on Facebook, and she has shared dozens of photos of herself campaigning among black Georgians.  Please know that Nunn will be the senator who will care for your interests.  She is a Democrat.  David Perdue, on the other hand, will be looking out for the Republican agenda and himself, imo, which are not in your interests.  If you are wise, you will not let small concerns stop you from voting for Nunn.  She needs your support, and we other Georgia Democrats need your vote to stop the Republican agenda, which does not serve the masses of people in our state.  Please get your friends and family to the polls in November to vote for Michelle Nunn. 

AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

The whole Michelle Martin fiasco is an educational moment - the hardcore left will support her regardless. A D politician or candidate can never do wrong in the eyes of the dependent.   If this had been a R candidate the entire MSM and statists supporters would be calling the candidate a racist, bigot and terrorist supporter....

Charles50
Charles50

@JaySly And David Perdue's track record is?  Talk about a track record, your side voted against all of the candidates who had one.  Apparently they didn't count for much.  So essentially we will have the privilege of selecting one of two newbies.  In my opinion that's not exactly a bad thing.  

honested
honested

@JaySly 

No track record?

Leadership within the community and the state (but not in the republiklan party) definitely a plus.

Weak experience?

Has been gainfully employed for decades (well since the 'r's prefer lazy trust fund types, I see where you are coming from).

Hard left liberal?

I'm glad I didn't have a mouthful of anything, because that nonsense is certainly worth a screen spew.

Hamas supporter?

Just how foolish do you people want to be?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@JaySly 

... with no track record...

David Perdue says, "What?"

TheLine
TheLine

@MoFaux Cry all you want, loser. Moochell will not win in GA. Stop running rehashes of failed senators/governors from the 70s and 80s. 


Losers.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@MoFaux Exactly, this is why Sandra Deal did a photo shoot with all those minority children last week.  The problem that Nathan Deal has is every time someone opens their mouth to help him he inserts his foot.  

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@dcdcdc So what you are saying is that Republican support for the Jewish community should be based on cash and votes?  Doesn't that go against the Christian (Republicans) belief that Jews are God's chosen people.? Deuteronomy 14:2   I will file your post in the fake Christian column along with the pee before you can eat file and denial of Medicaid to the sick and poor.

honested
honested

@EdUktr 

Yo ed, reality doesn't require spin.

That's why the 'reality' side doesn't require it's own fauxnewz to 'spin' things.

DannyX
DannyX

@EdUktr, Jim didn't even write this column.  

Where exactly is the spin?  Don't run away and hide as usual, where's the spin?

honested
honested

@AtlantanITP 

What 'fiasco'?

The ultra-wrong-wing-national-review stole a 'memo in progress' that is obsolete and pretended it was important.

Wrong wing nuts grabbed onto it like it was a holy grail.

Too bad, you still lose.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@AtlantanITP 

If this had been a R candidate the entire MSM and statists supporters would be calling the candidate a racist, bigot and terrorist supporter....

Got proof?

DannyX
DannyX

@AtlantanITP, I take it you didn't read the column and just skipped to the comments section where you couldn't wait to play the victim.

MoFaux
MoFaux

@TheLine @MoFaux I think the word "Loser" should be reserved for misogynist cowards like you that base their voting upon the physical beauty (or lack thereof) of the candidates, and then post immature, prepubescent comments anonymously.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@StraightNoChaser @dcdcdc File it where you want.  Dems must be laughing all the way to the bank.  They get their funding from the Jewish comm, and then turn around and get votes from the Arab community by bashing Israel.

By blindly supporting Israel in spite of this, the Reps are idiots.  They will eventually wake up...then the Jewish community will only have themselves to blame.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@TheLine @MaryElizabethSings -  @the wrong LINE - Why MUST YOU be such a LIAR?


AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

@honested @AtlantanITP kind of like that leaked video of the Romney campaign in 2012 stating that 47% will not vote for him.  I bet you were just outraged by it....

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@honested @AtlantanITP If by "still lose", you mean like the GA elections of the past 20 year, then I'll take losing all day long....  it's truly hilarious watching the liberal choir (all 20 of them) talk to themselves on this blog.  Meanwhile, how many D's has GA actually elected? But keep preaching to yourselves.  I'm sure you guys will eventually number at least 40.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@dcdcdc @dcdcdc  I really don't give a rat's a$$ what's going on outside of the states.  I never said I ascribe to either belief when I vote.  My concern is what's going on right here in America. That in itself is a 24/7 job. Jobs, healthcare, housing, food etc... that is why anyone should be voting based on what's happening here in America not in another country unless it involves our service men.  I was just pointing out the hypocracy of the republican party that you believe the Jewish Community should throw their support too. News flash Christians are not even supporting Christians that are being slain in Islamic country's so what do you really think they care about Israel?  It's about votes on both sides.   

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@AtlantanITP @honested  My post "When I leave them I feel like I have I am leaving 1950 Alabama or Mississippi, especially fixed news".  What more proof do I need than to witness it myself?  To be honest with you I had never been called the N word in my life until I visited Fox News comment section.  My wish is that the posters were face to face with me I would not have turned the other cheek.  What's wrong AtlantanITP am I calling you out?  I have been told "a hit dog will holla".

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@dcdcdc @honested @AtlantanITP Like it does not happen on right wing blogs.  What's missing here are the racial epithets which are a constant on right wing blogs.  When I leave them I feel like I have I am leaving 1950 Alabama or Mississippi, especially fixed news.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@AtlantanITP 

Where do i begin??? 

(shrug)

You can either back up what comes out of that pie-hole of yours, or you can't.
It's not complicated.

DannyX
DannyX

@AtlantanITP, if you had read the column you may have picked up on the fact that there are liberals calling out Michelle Nunn.  Now go get your glasses fixed Mr Umpire and then go read the column, we don't want you blowing any more calls.

AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

@StraightNoChaser anyone can call anything on a comments section. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a lib on Fox News comments doing it. What is your fixation with Fox News?  Do you actually watch it?

AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

@StraightNoChaser Your probably watching "fixed news" right now.  StraightNoChaser -  a clear prog calling conservatives racists...  No real proof, but just accuse and accuse.  No different than Harry Reid's Koch addiction.

AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

@Kamchak @AtlantanITP Katrina - the entire W. Presidency the left was busy calling him a stupid racist.  You were alive then weren't you?  Condi wasn't black, Herman Cain isn't black, Miguel Estrada isn't latino, etc, etc, etc...  By the way I'm typing and not talking.  Perhaps your pie hole is on another part of your body...

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@AtlantanITP @StraightNoChaser Hell no anytime it's open season for anyone to call me or anyone else the N word that lets me know its time to go.  Seriously, every website I have visited has moderators that remove this type of BS but not at fox apparently it was business as usual. Remind me again why I should be a republican.  

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@AtlantanITP @Kamchak I can count on one hand the black conservatives you have listed and then it would not require all five fingers, now that's sad.  Herman Cain reminds me so much of Samuel L. Jackson’s twisted house slave interpretation of  Stephen in Django Unchained .  He looks like him and he acts like him.  Search YouTube for Herman Cain dancing at tea party rallies and get back to me on what you think.  Seriously, Herman Cain graduated from a Historically Black College (HBCU) Morehouse in 1967 but he hid out from the civil rights movement which was happening right here in Atlanta. Who does that?  How can you attend a school founded by slaves but not help fight the fight?   Sounds like a moocher to me which is what he did running for president in 2012.  President Obama and his supporters paved the way then here he comes trying to benefit from it.  My interpretation of that either he is a coward or he gave up his black card in the 60's that is why I do not respect him.  

Kamchak
Kamchak

@AtlantanITP 

Katrina - the entire W. Presidency the left was busy calling him a stupid racist.

Got proof? 

You were alive then weren't you?

Yes.

Condi wasn't black, Herman Cain isn't black, Miguel Estrada isn't latino, etc, etc, etc...

Got proof?

AtlantanITP
AtlantanITP

@Kamchak @AtlantanITP 

Sure just google Ted Rall  Condi Rice cartoon or Jeff Danziger Condi Rice cartoon. I recall the progs laughing.

You can look up the rest yourself.  Clearly you don't have dementia.  Heck just go to twitter and look at the comments Herman Cain receives from the left. 

Kamchak
Kamchak

You can look up the rest yourself.

That's not how it works, sport.

Your assertions, you provide the proof.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@TheLine 

Here you go, dip$hit.

My dear, sweet, gentle, manic/depressive Commie-poo, perhaps you should go back and read the original assertion.

Just suggestin'.