269 + 1 with Beth Myers

Behind the Scenes of A Presidential Campaign

Beth Myers

Wednesdays, 4:00 – 5:30



WEEK ONE: September 25, Laying the Groundwork for a Presidential Run (or…What the 2016 Aspirants are Doing Right Now) Every four years, a number of Americans make the decision to run for the highest office in the land. It’s an enormous decision with great personal and public consequence. How does one make the decision to run for president? What has to happen (years) in advance to keep the option open for a run? How do you find the right people to work with you to make it happen? Is there a wrong way or a right way? Does any aspirant for president really have any idea what’s in store for them when they make the decision to run? (Suggested read: Collision 2012 by Dan Balz)


WEEK TWO: October 2, Running a Presidential Campaign in a Freak Show World. Guest Matt Rhoades, Campaign Manager Romney for President 2012. Managing a presidential campaign is like running a billion dollar startup whose every move is scrutinized by the media and criticized by a plethora of new media Monday morning quarterbacks. It’s 24/7 madness where every day is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. How do you structure a nationwide organization that can function at peak performance and grows exponentially every month? How do you stay focused on the goal – winning delegates for the nomination and 270 electoral votes in the fall -- and not get sidetracked by countless distractions? How do you manage effectively in a crisis environment for months on end? Matt Rhoades ran the Romney for President campaign in 2012, dealt with these issues every day, and will share his thoughts on that experience.


WEEK THREE: October 9, The First Votes: Tales from Iowa and New Hampshire. Guests David Kochel, Iowa Senior Advisor for Romney for President 2008, 2012 and Jim Merrill, NH Senior Advisor for Romney for President 2008, 2012. The states of Iowa and New Hampshire have for years been the first two states where votes are cast in the presidential nomination process. What’s it really like on the cold, hard winter ground when the race officially begins? How do the voters respond to presidential candidates criss-crossing the state for months, showing up wherever ten voters are gathered together? Is this the best way for the parties to nominate a president? David Kochel and Jim Merrill understand Iowa and NH better than anyone and have strong opinions on the impacts of the early races in the states themselves and on national politics.


WEEK FOUR: October 16, It Only Takes a Billion. Guest Spencer Zwick, Finance Director for Romney for President 2008, 2012. Now that public financing of presidential campaigns is a thing of the past and both the Romney and Obama campaigns raised A BILLION DOLLARS (!) in 2012, the pressure to raise money to fund campaigns is enormous. How do you start with nothing and bring in the money fast and furious? Do big donors and bundlers matter as much in an internet age? What impact do SuperPACs have on the primary and general elections? Are the Federal Election laws meaningless in light of dollars going to SuperPACs and other independent expenditure entities? Spencer is the only Republican Finance Director who has raised a billion dollars for a presidential campaign, and has a unique perspective on the current state of campaign financing.


WEEK FIVE: October 23, Making Every Second Count: Paid Advertising in Presidential Campaigns. Guest Ashley O’Connor, Media Director Romney for President 2012. Over the past decades, television advertising has been the primary medium for persuading voters. But with the advent of hundreds of cable TV channels, TIVO, social media, and mobile devices, is television advertising still the best way to talk to voters? And if so, how has it changed from the time when three networks dominated the airwaves? How do you talk to specific swing voters? What do you say, how do you say it and where do you say it? Ashley handled paid media for the Romney Campaign in 2012 and was charged with finding the best way to communicate with the voters in swing states, and currently does so for her 2014 clients, and has thought about these issues in great depth.


WEEK SIX: October 30, The Press and the Campaign: “Newsroom” Has it All Wrong, Right? Guests Gail Gitcho, Communications Director Romney for President 2012; Maeve Reston, 2012 Romney Reporter for the LA Times; Ashley Parker, 2012 Romney Reporter for New York Times; and Peter Hamby, CNN Political Reporter. The Romney for President press bus has been highlighted on HBO’s Newsroom this season – did HBO get it right? Maeve and Ashley can give you their perspective – they spent months on the campaign bus and plane, sleeping in Hampton Inns, living out of their suitcase (unless it got lost) and filing excellent stories on deadline every single day. Gail had a different view as ‘comms’ director for the campaign. Can embeds report meaningful stories on presidential campaigns or are they too close? What’s the give and take like between the campaigns and the reporters who are with them every day? How fun (or awful) is life on the road? Is it possible to keep a secret from the embed reporters (like the VP pick?)


WEEK SEVEN: November 6, Talking to the Voters -- Political Speechmaking in the Digital Age. Guest Peter Flaherty, Senior Advisor to Romney for President 2008, 2012. The spoken words of a candidate are one of the most revealing forms of communication in a campaign. Speeches are critically important to any campaign, and even more so in presidential races that are scrutinized at every juncture. Content, tone, delivery, venue -- all must convey exactly what the candidate wants to express, in the candidate's own voice, in a way that connects with voters…all the while making sure that no snippet can be misconstrued or seen as a gaffe in a YouTube clip. Peter worked for Mitt Romney for ten years -- in the state house and on the presidential campaigns -- framing countless speeches, and understands the process as well as anyone in politics today. In addition to his campaign experience, Peter's background as a homicide prosecutor in the Suffolk County DA's office gives him a unique understanding of the importance of narrative and persuasion in spoken language.