McCain – a PR case study

Public Relations is a mix of art and science and is a practice every professional needs to master, even if it’s just to market yourself. Today you’ll learn a lesson at the expense of Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States.

It’s clear the flak that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. has caught from his two-decades long association with his radical Afro-centric pastor, Jeremiah Wright has McCain’s attention. McCain is afraid that being endorsed by John Hagee and Rod Parsley will become his own Jeremiah Wright. Unfortunately, McCain did the knee jerk reaction, and in the humble opinion of your simple scribe, he has hurt himself.

McCain has denounced the endorsements of Hagee (based on his beliefs about the Catholic church, Israel’s rightful claim to the Holy Land and other issues) and of Parsley (primarily because of his historically-accurate teachings on Islam). By doing this he might have distanced himself from some political fallout, but he also distanced himself from many tens of thousands of evangelical voters who weren’t entirely in love with McCain to begin with.

Here’s what he should have done. (Get out your notebooks.)

First, he should have made it clear that he greatly appreciates everyone’s support, even if he doesn’t agree with them. Then he should have shown that Christianity is made up of many diverse and highly fragmented groups, many of which don’t agree with each other — but they coexist as fellow believers focused on love as the primary Christian attribute. Then he should have pulled it further out to encompass the broader Republican tent which has space for many religious and non-religous people to disagree on some issues but agree on a stronger and better America.

He should have also made it clear that these pastors were never HIS pastor. That he never sat under their teaching, and never had them perform religious sacraments for his family. And by doing this he could have both distanced himself from their teachings while again binding Obama tighter to Rev. Wright.

McCain has a history of shooting before aiming — I think he did it again. Your lesson: be careful in dealing with a potential crisis that you don’t alienate your existing support base. You and I need all the friends we can get!

Posted on May 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

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Responses (3)

  1. Jerry
    May 25, 2008 at 12:53 am ·

    Well stated, Joe. I couldn’t agree more. As one generally aligned with conservative/Republican positions, I sometimes want to ring McCain’s neck (figuratively speaking, of course)!! I wish he would take your advice.

  2. Jamie Holts
    May 25, 2008 at 1:35 am ·

    I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.

  3. Chuck
    May 26, 2008 at 7:15 am ·

    Well said, Joe. I think McCain sometimes has a tin ear when it comes to church, God and faith. That being said, Rod Parsley is hardly someone for whose endorsement I’d go out of my way if I were running for office. I remember the day that the whole Bill Cunningham/Barack “Hussein” Obama flap kicked up, I saw some news footage of Parsley following McCain off a bus and thought, “Oh geez… that’s a mistake (on McCain’s part).” You can benefit from someone’s endorsement without showing up on the same stage and appearing to endorse them back.

    McCain is the only realistic choice for those on the right…unless they want to join Dobson and his ilk and take their bat and ball and go home because they weren’t picked to be on the team this year. I think McCain would be wise to spend less time sucking up and more time saying what he’s going to get done for the country.

    I think you’ve framed it just right. McCain should say, “Hey folks, I’m running for President. I welcome all the endorsements I can get from anyone…individuals, leaders of groups, etc. I don’t have to know or agree with everything you believe. I want to be president of all of America…not just those with whom I’m philosopically-aligned on a personal level.”

    I think everyone has a right to get as active as they want politically…but I continue to find the relationship between religion/faith and political power a dangerous one. Theocrats make me nervous. I don’t see a biblical basis for that philosophy, yet I see plenty of historical evidence of religious leaders who are seduced by the allure of political power, and who are taken advantage of by politicians. Will we ever learn that God has no affiliation with a particular political party?

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