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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Integrity/Trust Brand

On Tuesday, New York political consultant Eric Schmelzer posted a DailyKos diary (via Smith) about an aspect of Monday night's debate that he believes may "pivot the campaign" in Barack Obama's favor:

Surprisingly (at least to me), it seemed like Clinton, as well, made the decision to fight Obama on the trust issue, intimating that Obama was slick ("’s just very difficult to get a straight answer"), and that he worked for a slum lord.

I can't think of a worse issue for Clinton to try to match Obama over than trust. So far, trust hasn't entered the debate. It's surprising Obama didn't raise it before, because it tops the list of things people concern themselves with when voting (not surprising since we're coming out of W's administration). It's also an issue where Clinton is a clear loser (see questions 43, 44, 69). While voters fundamentally love what the Clintons did for the country in the 1990s, I think without reservation, most voters didn't see them as the most honest couple in the world.

In the battle to change the dialogue from experience to trust, Obama clearly won. It was definitely viewed as a victory by the Obama team, which released a post-debate dripping with references to 'trust.'

He's still waging that battle today, and Clinton is still taking the bait on it.

Today, Senator Clinton's team is still hitting on trust/truth, with Clinton saying this morning, "He has a hard time responding to questions about his record..." and "[Obama's answers] were so rehearsed that he kept on insisting that I had mentioned President Reagan in what I had said when I didn't mention President Reagan..."

Schmelzer is certainly right about "trust" being dangerous ground for the Clinton campaign, as is evident in results from today's new LA Times/Bloomberg survey (PDF):

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