Washington Post: Romney should emulate Thune approach

The way to defeat Barack Obama is tied to South Dakota’s epic 2004 Senate race.

At least that’s the take of a Washington Post blogger. Chris Cillizza writes that Mitt Romney faces a problem this fall: People like Obama. Some people who disagree with his policies like him personally. So how does the presumed GOP candidate counter that?

Crillizza suggests looking at how John Thune defeated Tom Daschle in the most expensive, high-profile Senate race in South Dakota history:

“Thune and his campaign didn’t try to make the race about personalities. Instead of arguing that Daschle was a bad guy, Thune made the case that Daschle was a good guy with the wrong priorities for the state,” Cillizza wrote. “That, at the end of the day, everyone liked Daschle but that Daschle had lost touch with the perspective of average South Dakotans.”

If that was the reason, it worked. Thune defeated Daschle as South Dakota voters tossed aside the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, and a man who had served the state for 26 years.

Obama has a much shorter history with American voters. But Thune was a strong, talented campaigner fresh off a razor-thin loss to Tim Johnson in 2002. Voters knew and liked him. Romney hasn’t shown great style so far, fumbling and stumbling often.

Romney, whom Thune has endorsed and campaigned for, may follow the South Dakota Republican’s approach. If he does, will what worked in South Dakota be effective nationally?

And isn’t it amazing how that eight-year-old Senate race has lingered on the state and national scene?

5 thoughts on “Washington Post: Romney should emulate Thune approach

  1. If I recall properly, that discussion of priorities included plenty of personal stuff, like criticizing Daschle for his wife’s lobbying activities and for his association with reporter Dave Kranz.

  2. It was tough on Dave Kranz, no doubt. I spoke with him often and he never got over it.
    Thune’s adviser/speechwriter/historian Jon Lauck was the blogger behind the race and he also remains interested in that amazing campaign.
    Thursday night in Mitchell, Dusty Johnson, Gov. Daugaard’s chief of staff, talked about that 2004 Senate race in his speech during a GOP dinner. It has become the stuff of legend.

  3. It’s the stuff of myth, legend, and folklore – showing with enough propaganda and money voters will vote against their interests. Edward Bernays and P.T.Barnum would be proud.

    The presidential election is over. It’s so over and has been over for a year. The only folks not recognizing it’s over are those who’s salaries depend upon calling the faux horse race. Google: Alan J. Lichtman, 13 keys, presidential election, Maryland Gazette. Lichtman, with his 13 keys, predicted the popular vote winner in every election back to the 1980s. Polls are irrelevant. Get over it. Move on.

  4. Cillizza grossly mischaracterizes that campaign. I worked on it and the campaign office in Aberdeen had a back room in which the walls were covered with the anti-Daschle campaign materials–two years worth before the election. A campaign history recalls many of them, an example: “another ad run by South Dakota Republican Rep. Jim Thune against incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, also of South Dakota. The ad, which includes a picture of Saddam Hussein, states in part, “Al Qaeda terrorists, Saddam Hussein, enemies of America working to obtain nuclear weapons. Now more than ever, our nation must have a missile defense system to shoot down missiles fired at America. Yet Tim Johnson has voted against a missile defense system 29 different times.” And shortly before the election during a tv debaate, Thune accused Dasche of giving comfort to the enemy.

    Then there were the attacks on his family and personal life with the pictures of Daschle’s house in D.C. , the in the last weeks of the campaign that said Daschle left his first wife to marry a beauty queen, and, of course, the constant accusations about Linda’s lobbying. The personal defamations and false accusations about Daschle were constant, and a blogger, then a professor of history, was paid by the Thune campaign to lead the charge.

    John Thune conducted one of the nastiest campaigns in South Dakota history, and it was successful. The book that details that campaign is being written.

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