How to Train Your Candidate

Over at The Daily Caller Matt Lewis writes:

So here’s my proposal: What if — in addition to insisting candidates sign pledges and pass other litmus tests — outside groups also mandated that before receiving financial support, a candidate must also attend campaign training?

This can make a huge difference. Candidates running for Congress in 1994 were greatly aided by training tapes and manuals sent out by Newt Gingrich’s GOPAC in the early 1990s. For four years, I worked at Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, which trains conservatives how to be more effective in the public policy process. They do tremendous work. They even have a TV studio where conservatives can practice debating and answering tough questions before going on TV.

To be sure, not every candidate will be open to this. Some don’t realize that political technology is philosophically neutral. Some mistakenly view selling conservative ideas as selling out. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

Still, instead of making Republican primary campaigns more divisive and expensive, Rove and his team should first attempt to go this route. They should try to enlist other conservative outside groups to join in the effort. And even if these groups won’t join in on the effort, before targeting conservative candidates for defeat, the Conservative Victory Project should offer these candidates a chance to attend a training seminar.

Lewis is completely right.  Candidates need to understand the 24/7 news-cycle, social media and other aspects of a 21st century campaign.  Time and time again it’s the unscripted moments that define a candidate. We can bemoan the liberal media for harping on our candidates and ignoring the Left’s when they have similar foot-in-mouth moments, but the outcome is still the same — we lose.  In addition to the candidates, other people who work within a campaign — managers, spouses, spokespeople, social media managers — also need the same training.  Like it or not, staff is also under the media’s microscope.  It’s not enough to have a better message if we’re stumbling over ourselves to get it out.