Presidential candidates usually jockey their running-mate announcements for maximum exposure and impact, but Barack Obama has an unusual plan for his revelation. Instead of holding a rally with 200,000 supporters, a la Berlin and the Tiergarten, Obama will announce his selection electronically to people who register at his site to get the e-mail or text-message announcement:
Barack is about to choose a running mate, and he wants you to know first. You have helped build this movement from the bottom up, and Barack wants you to be part of this important moment.
Andrew Malcolm sees some potential for a bounce with this plan:
The announcement will surely come before the Democratic National Convention starts in Denver on Aug. 25. It could even come while the candidate is on vacation, scheduled to end next Friday. If not, that leaves a 10-day announcement window of Aug. 15-25.
The traditional scenario would be for Obama and his pick to appear at a grand joint announcement somewhere with their families and dozens of TV cameras.
However, if hypothetically the announcement was to be made dramatically via cellphone texts, e-mails and the Obama website, the two candidates would not need to be together.
And if it came, oh, say, sometime this week. it would instantly dominate the news stream and erase any advantage Republican Sen. John McCain might have gotten from a week of campaigning without the Democrats’ competition.
For some reason, I doubt that the media will take kindly to getting cut out of the announcement loop. Of course they’ll cover the announcement and dissect the choice, but this gimmicky delivery bypasses them and delays the sound bite of Obama making the choice, which every television outlet would have carried live. The drama of that moment will be lost. Malcolm says that Obama and his running mate could appear later and regain that drama, but it will not be the same at all.
If Malcolm has the timing right, then Obama has already made a tactical mistake on the timing. The Olympics run from last Friday all the way to the start of the convention. He took a week off primarily because his campaign assumed that most people have stopped paying attention until the convention. Now he wants to make a splash with his VP announcement — by texting it? It almost sounds as if Obama wants to announce this under the radar.
The time to do this kind of announcement was early last week, before the Olympics, and before war broke out in the Caucasus, although that’s just an accident of timing. Instead of looking presidential in making this announcement, Obama looks like a parent trying too hard to be hip around his kid’s friends. It’s a poorly thought out plan.