Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Issues and Image

Howard Kurtz brings up an interesting point about Dean's approach that I hadn't noticed before:

As I noted Sunday in a Washington Post story, Dean's advertising has been all issue-driven, as opposed to the biographical spots that Edwards and Gephardt are running. Dean rarely talks about his background, or his wife (who doesn't do the campaign thing) or the death of his brother. But at some point he will have to give the public more of a peek into his persona, if only because modern campaigning seems to require that.

There are two things to notice here: (1) Dean is growing in popularity while focusing almost exclusively on issues and (2) Kurtz seems to think that this approach will eventually have to give way to the public's demand to know more about a candidate's persona.

He may be right, but isn't it interesting that Dean has been as successful as he has been while running counter to the conventional wisdom? Apparently the other candidates are running ads that are more biographical in nature. This indicates that their marketing strategy is to sell the candidate first and their solutions second. Dean is running the exact opposite approach. He is talking about the issues and letting the personality questions essentially work themselves out as the campaign progresses.

Which method is working? Do we really need to ask?

Update: I just noticed something else about Kurtz's column. He uses the discussion of Dean to segue into a discusson of media coverage of Bush's $87 billion dollar Iraqi bailout request. Isn't it interesting that Kurtz seems to think that Dean's campaign is a more significant news story than Bush's money problems?


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