by: Todd Hill
Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 01:00 PM CDT
Those who attended last week's Democratic State Convention certainly come away feeling united and ready for the summer stretch into an upcoming tough fall campaign against Rick Perry. Make no mistake, nothing less than our "A" game will be required for Democrats, including Bill White, to be successful in November.
Positive discussion has begun around Bill White's convention speech and rightfully so. Some argue that White gave the biggest speech of his life, and if so, he certainly delivered. I was lucky enough to be on the convention floor in front of the stage as White delivered his speech and he did so with tremendous confidence and enthusiasm. I believe White was also buoyed by the consistent outbreak of "We want Bill," to which the former Mayor of Houston replied, "you'll have me!" I've had the good fortune of seeing and hearing Bill White speak on a number of occasions and he only gets better every time I hear him. He noticeably feeds off the energy of crowds and that's an important quality that not all politicians have.
Overall, I believe the speech was real good and set the tone for White's campaign as we move toward November. Specifically, I believe there were three critical points to take away from the speech that define not only the message of the campaign, but also the level of enthusiasm for the candidate and the strategy of the campaign too.
Critical Point 1: Rick Perry's in it for himself
Bill White hammered home this point in several passages throughout his speech and goodness knows that Perry has provided numerous bullet points after two decades in developing a problem causing record in state government for which White could clearly articulate and frame for the electorate. White crafted a powerful message frame suggesting a selfish, career politician who has abused state power for personal and political gain. From Perry's $10,000 a month mansion, to his "Oooh-la-la" subscriptions to food and wine magazine. From Perry's ambitions for national office to his questionable mismanagement of the Texas Enterprise Fund. From Perry's support of escalating utility and insurance costs to his fond support of Mississippi being the only thing that prevents Texas from hitting rock bottom on a number of measurable public education standards. Rick Perry continues to demonstrate that the only thing that matters to Rick Perry is himself. Not Texas and not Texans. The only thing that matters to Rick Perry is Rick Perry.
Critical Point 2: This campaign is not about Washington it is about Texas
Bill White waited till virtually the end of his twenty-one minute speech before punching home in his conclusion that "It's not about Washington, it's about putting Texas first." A very strong, very powerful, and very effective message frame. From the very beginning of Rick Perry's campaign, all the way back to his primary against Kay Bailey Hutchison, he has demonized Washington as everything that is wrong with Texas while claiming everything that is good about Texas is because of Rick Perry. White did an effective job of popping Perry's frame by reminding Texans that this election isn't about Washington it's about you. It's about Texas. It's about this state's future. This campaign is about the job that Rick Perry has held now for a decade and whether he has positioned this state for future growth and opportunity or if he has saddled the office of Governor with ethical issues, provided problem-causing leadership, along with crafting and supporting polarizing and destructive policies that position everyday Texans to fail. Bill White waited till the right time in his convention speech to remind Texas that this campaign isn't about Washington it's about Texas.
Critical Point 3: The Rural Pecos Cowboy
Towards the end of Bill White's speech he adlibbed and told the audience a brief story of his campaigning in Pecos County. White spoke of a rancher he met and shook hands with. The Pecos Cowboy had a lump of chew in his mouth and listened intently as White gave his elevator stump line. The Pecos rancher responded, "I know who you are, you're my Facebook friend!" Politicians and campaigns across this country understand the idea of utilizing social media and social networking sites as a means toward an end. The means is to tap into and communicate with individuals that are web-savvy and operate on networking websites like Facebook. The end is the hope that campaign dribble will at some point attract attention to their campaign, but it won't. Simply creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts doesn't accomplish the overall objective, or even the potential, that social networking has to offer in the way of 21st century campaigning. Bill White has been an early user and frequent contributor toward both his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Not only in a political way, but in an incredibly personal way too which is very important. Not only does his team, but White himself understands the importance and overall use of social media and social networking as a new organizing tool capable of connecting people in a way that one would never have imagined in previous campaigns, but that these tools are only as effective as the individual's ability to give people a personal glimpse into them. The fact that White connected with a voter in a rural Texas county that probably most of the BOR community never heard of---even before he stepped foot on this man's ranch mind you, tells you two things. First, this candidate and his campaign get social networking and social media. Second, this candidate and his campaign understands the need to reach beyond the metropolitan and urban counties of Texas into the rural areas where Democrats have long written off as too conservative to even attempt and compete in. Bill White communicated with a rural voter in two different ways and that's the type of campaigning that will do him well going forward.
In the final analysis Bill White delivered a highly effective convention speech that truly sets the tone for the fall campaign.
A lot of people really hate Rick Perry. Last election he only got 44% of the vote and that was before his political marriage with the Tea Party and Texas Secession talks (President/Governor Sam Houston never wanted Texas to secede from the union and it is STILL a raw spot for a lot of Texans who think we never should have). Oooh and the Texas Land Grab and traffic headache known as the Texas Trans-Corridor is still a major issue. I think Perry got some death threats from ranchers whose lost land that was taken in eminent domain over TTC.
The social media aspect of Bill White's campaign is completely true. I follow him on twitter and fanned his fan page. He is ALWAYS talking about his wife, kids, and the compaign and people he meets on the way. He posts a lot about his campaign stops where he will be and when and then does a rundown of how thinks it went and most memorable questions raised by the people.
As to the video, Bill White speaking spanish was kind of hot. I only understood a few words, but it would be awesome to have a bilingual Governor. Just another way to show the difference between him and Rick Perry. Bill White grew up in San Antonio with its huge latino population. Him speaking spanish on his stops will endear him more to him as a person who can relate to him. Especially, more than Rick Perry relates to them.
So what do you guys think? Can Texas pull off a Democrat upset against the Republican Party? We don't have a split ticket like we did in 2006 (4 people running and NO RUN-OFF) and A LOT of people are pissed at Rick Perry.
P.S. hearts out to South Texas and Northern Mexico, Brownsville at this moment is getting 5.6 inches of rain and flooding from Brownsville. The Rio Grande is also 6 feet higher due to the storm. Hurricane Alex's landfall is now 8pm today. A bunch of counties in Texas have already been declared federal disaster areas. I, myself, am in a tornado watch and flash flood warning.