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Friday, February 22, 2008

Good for you Texas

That isn’t a phrase I have used all that often, but last night the Lone Star State made me proud.

I haven’t written about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, but I often discuss him with friends, I frequently tell the story about meeting him at a 2006 gubernatorial debate in Agawam where an entrance census, census not survey, showed 95% of those in attendance did not know who they would vote for if the election were that night, which is not uncommon, people go to debates to learn about the candidates. Patrick blew the doors of the place. I had goose bumps. He got more standing ovations than his opponents got applause, I would liken it to the Obama buzz, except bigger. The exit census showed 97% would vote for Patrick if the election were that day, census. What does that mean? It means that of the 200 or so people there that night, six or seven people would vote for one of the other candidates, including the two other candidates themselves and their wives. Barring a massive scandal or a lack of personal ambition, I think Deval Patrick will be President someday.

Patrick and Obama have been friends for years, they went to school together, they worked together as community organizers in Chicago, and Gov. Patrick is one of the chief strategists on the Obama campaign. They are also very similar politicians, near identical résumés pre-politics, they speak with sincerity about bridging the blue/red divide and they both have the power to give a speech that’ll knock your socks off. That said it didn’t surprise me to read about the manufactured controversy about them making the same point in a speech (and by the way, if you can forget who said it first, it’s a dynamite speech).
It also didn’t surprise me to get a couple phone calls from Hilary staffers curious for my opinion. I pointed out the close relationship the two have, and also that Patrick had suggested Obama use the allegedly “stolen” lines. They seemed to think it was going to cripple Obama and rejuvenate the Hilary campaign, I said they were crazy, but one staffer who works very closely with Mrs. Clinton said “wait until you hear the line we came up with. She’s going to drop it on him and it’ll be the chant at every McCain rally, it’ll be all over youtube, it’s gonna be the turning point.”
I was skeptical.

The line? “That’s not change you can believe in – it’s change you can Xerox”. The audience booed. Good for you Texas. It was one of the dumbest things her campaign has done, how is she going to condemn him for using lines written by his staffers with a line written by her staffers? I called my friend after the debate to ask that question and to say that “a big part of why you’re losing so monumentally, is because you have a candidate and a campaign staff that can’t seem to tell the difference between brilliant ideas and really stupid political moves, this was dumber than when you dug up his kindergarten papers”.

Her campaign still thinks it’s going to resonate.

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