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Hey, it's been 24 hours since The Pick (the veep kind, not the Seinfeld kind).
That's a million years in political media cycle terms, so it is time to render some grand judgments.
In fact, such judgments are long overdue (Sorry, we were catching up on our sleep.)
A. What's up with the rollout?
Every election, top communications strategists in both parties -- say, an Ed Gillespie for the Republicans, or a Rahm Emanuel for the Democrats -- cringe and scowl and bellow that if only their respective parties could plan and execute a sophisticated communications strategy, winning elections and implementing their wonderful ideas would be a snap.
Let history record that Stephanie Cutter and her secret team of ace planners put together a Veepstakes rollout plan that the media is being forced to follow along with in lockstep (even as the media is aware of and denounces the manipulation).
It will take the public a whole heck of a lot longer to even possibly sense that they are watching a slow-motion, multi-day dog and pony show.
National and battleground coverage -- running through at a minimum to this Sunday's "60 Minutes" -- has been and is on a trajectory to be in volume and quality even beyond the wildest dreams of what Cutter and Co. drew up on the blackboard.
This morning's family-friendly farm photo op in Pittsburgh got road-blocked live coverage on all the broadcast and cable networks. The children were all front and center and the spouses both got a chance to talk.
We don't know who had more physical contact -- John Kerry and John Edwards (hugga hugga!) or Chris Heinz and his step-sister Vanessa.
They did not take questions, about which the public will certainly be outraged.
OK, actually, ABC News' David Chalian reports that a reporter did manage to get in a single question to John Edwards following the photo-op:
Q: What do you think of President Bush visiting your home state today?
A: "I can tell you I spent a lot more time there than he has."
The campaign team put their rollout plan together not knowing who the Robin would be to Kerry's Batman in this political buddy film, and they were rewarded with a candidate who is perdy and energetic and will fire up the crowds as much as his selection has them fired up (when they aren't complaining about too little sleep).
Backgrounding only the details they want out there (menus two days running!!); focusing on what The Pick says about the careful, thoughtful, mature character of John Kerry; knowing what will trigger live broadcast and cable coverage; ample surrogate conference calls and talking points; earning free media for a new Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid TV ad; the distinctive Kerry-alone initial announcement; and the rollout of Jim Johnson as a sort of discreet, seasoned version of Warren Christopher -- all of that has been very effective.
BC04RNCFrist executed its own long-planned efforts to derail/smudge/splatter The Pick, but, so far, it hasn't kicked in to stop the press from the dominant storylines -- implicit and explicit -- that the media wants.
Let's be frank about what that is: We The Media love John Edwards and we like John Kerry more than before for picking him. And Emma Claire and Jack are really, really cute.