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In Today's Post: Inside the Edwards Campaign

The Fix's Chris Cillizza looks at the rise of Joe Trippi's influence inside Democrat John Edwards's presidential campaign. Trippi, Fix readers know, was Howard Dean's top strategist in 2004.

Excerpt: "From the day he announced his candidacy in New Orleans last December, Edwards has presented himself as an outsider, someone much different from the senator who was John F. Kerry's running mate in 2004. But in recent weeks he has launched a markedly more aggressive attack on what he says is Clinton's poll-tested commitment to the status quo, and the new tone to his campaign has coincided with the growing influence of the strategist behind Howard Dean's assault on the Democratic establishment four years ago -- Joe Trippi."

Read the piece: "With Trippi's Rise, Some See a New John Edwards."

By Editors  |  October 23, 2007; 7:46 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Mike Huckabee: A Campaign of Starts and Stops


What is John Edwards' position on immigration? I would bet that it is the standard pro-immigration, pro-amnesty, pro-citizenship position of the Congressional Democrats. Its probably the one issue where a very large segment of the American public really is angry at Washington but Edwards position is probably the wrong one for those voters.

Personally, I've lost confidence in the Democrats ending the war. I'm angry about the war but I can't pretend to think its just the Republicans responsible.

Posted by: Malia2 | October 23, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

"I think comparing Rush (or most of the other conservative hosts) to a shock jock is a bit of a stretch."

Is it? If we look at the letter-raffle, is that the kind of stunt that a newsman would pull, or something that an entertainer uses to boost ratings?

Posted by: bsimon | October 23, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I'll grant you that talk radio may not be pure news, but Rush's ratings were there and have been there regardless of the controversies or lack thereof. I think comparing Rush (or most of the other conservative hosts) to a shock jock is a bit of a stretch.

Posted by: dave | October 23, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I think there is some basic truth to the idea that the brains of people who conside thmselves 'consevative' or 'progressive' work rather differently, particularly in this very polarized age.

I don't know many lefties who listen to talk radio much, except maybe NPR. As someone said, I don't need anyone to tell me what to think. Most folks I know get their news online, some even enjoy C-Span, which I occasionally also watch.

But I would guess those who identify as cons DO listen to talk radio and watch FOX.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, Joe Trippi has proven time and again the he possesses the ability to manage the campaign of a perfectly good candidate and loose. Loose big time. All the while quipping happily about how the Internet somehow magically will do the job. The job that supposedly would be Trippi's to do.

As campaign operatives go - Joe Trippi is poison to his candidate.

Posted by: welfarestate | October 23, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Talk radio is entertainment masquerading as news. Rush Limbaugh, like Howard Stern, sees the ratings rise in conjunction with increasingly inflammatory commetary.

Posted by: bsimon | October 23, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

JD, I never knew there was an "Air America" station in Austin.

I have my car tuner set for 6 FM stations: one classical, one NPR [with a great deal of Austin music], one rock, 2 C+W, and one devoted to Texas music with lots of Austin local as well as national talent covered, heavy on blues based rock and alternative country.

There is a seventh station I sometimes tune in. It is an urban local FM station that has a great Tuesday night call-in show called "The Dad Show" about family and family legal issues, and while I do not listen to the hip-hop much, I do listen to the R+B for we old folks.

One of the FM C+W stations carries UT sports. I'm covered.
I have never voluntarily listened to "Air America" or "Rush" or any talk radio aside from Bob Edwards on XMPR.

This was long for "I dunno".

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 23, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

JD: Perhaps liberals aren't interested in talk radio.

I'm a liberal. I have no interest in Air America. I think I've turned it on once or twice in the car, but I quickly got bored. I get my news online. When I want to hear what pundits have to say, I read columns online. I don't need people on the radio to tell me what's going on, and I don't need them to tell me what to think. So what good does Air America do me?

Posted by: Blarg | October 23, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Gee - another negative WaPo article about Edwards. Why can't WaPo get inside Hillary's campaign?
Because former first lady Hillary's campaign is heavily protected from outsiders - even as a senator running for prez.
Why isn't WaPo questioning the ramifications of a dynasty?
Why isn't WaPo demanding the Clintons reveal the donors to the Clinton Libary? We know the Saudi and Dubai governments have donated $1M each - and we know Clinton was a consultant FOR the Dubai government when the Dubai Ports deal was exposed last year.
Clinton Foundation and Global Initiative CORPORATE donors are donating to Hillary. A HUGE conflict of interest!

But WaPo is silent. Much like Chinese media.

Posted by: annefrank | October 23, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Mark, I heard today on the radio that the Air America station went bust in Austin, now it's some spanish language thing.

Wow. As the announcer said, trying to sell liberal radio in Austin is like trying to give away a pardon in a prison. I can't believe they couldn't make a go of it.

Posted by: JD | October 23, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I think "angry outsider" may be a more apt description. In the present climate, anyone who's an outsider may be more likely to resonate with an angry electorate.

Many of us are angry not just at the administration and Republicans, but Democrats in Congress as well.

That said, John Edwards is still short on practical experience, particularly when compared with Joe Biden or Bill Richardson.

Posted by: orloski | October 23, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Dave! writes
"That "angry populism" message continues to be a no-win approach to presidential politics."

I dunno; it may be premature to draw that conclusion. As they say, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Can Edwards credibly play the role of 'angry populist'? Yesterday I mentioned our late Senator Wellstone - an angry populist if there ever was one. Prior to his joining the Senate he was a college professor, which is a station in life a bit closer to the 'little people' than Edwards's.

Posted by: bsimon | October 23, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Trippi signed on at the end of March. It is now the end of October. Trippi has had seven months and numerous debates and events to help Edwards put his new stamp on his image. Edwards numbers have continued to slide during that time. Trippi's lineage is Gephardt, Brown and Dean, which is not what I would call a string of successes. That "angry populism" message continues to be a no-win approach to presidential politics. The one thing the article does get right is that Edwards might just be the better candidate for women. After all, look who appears to be calling the shots for the Edwards campaign - Elizabeth Edwards.

Posted by: dave | October 23, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Is Edwards really running a warmed-over version of his 2004 campaign? I thought that in 2004 he was friendly and promoted compromise. Now he's running as an angry populist. Sort of like Howard Dean, Trippi's last big client. So isn't Edwards running a warmed-over version of Dean's 2004 campaign?

Posted by: Blarg | October 23, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

This article seems like it was unearthed from a time capsule from the past. It should have been written the day Edwards announced or on the day he hired Trippi. Now all these "the new Edwards" articles same outdated.

Trippi won fame because he was able to raise vast amounts on money for Howard Dean through the internet. The Edwards' hoped that he would be able to do the same for their campaign. It hasn't happened

I guess the candidate really does matter more the the consultants or the staff. Trippi had more success fundraising for Howard Dean because Dean, for all his flaws, did strike a chord with many.

Edwards just seems like he is just running a warmed over version of his 2004 campaign and does not seem to inspire much enthusiasm.

Posted by: danielhancock | October 23, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

mark you mean about the contractor suicides? if so, that came out sunday morning--and yes, it's a must read too. rich has a way of putting it all together so you can see what a truly hideous debacle it all is.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

drindl, I do not have time to say more than "thanks" and to direct your attention to Frank Rich in today's NYT on the contractor debacle.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 23, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Mr Trippi participated briefly in a discussion over at The Trail a couple months ago. He did not strike me as particularly bright or capable of being challenged on his spin. The topic was whether Rove was really afraid of Clinton, or if he was talking about Clinton because he's *really* afraid of someone else. Mr Trippi couldn't explain why Rove allegedly fears Mr. Edwards more than, say, Sen Obama or Sen Biden.

Posted by: bsimon | October 23, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

This is a serious must-read. I knew it was bad but this is a clown show. This is a 3 ring circus of stupid.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

' State Department review of its own security practices in Iraq assails the department for poor coordination, communication, oversight and accountability involving armed security companies like Blackwater USA, according to people who have been briefed on the report. In addition to Blackwater, the State Department's two other security contractors in Iraq are DynCorp International and Triple Canopy.

At the same time, a government audit expected to be released Tuesday says that records documenting the work of DynCorp, the State Department's largest contractor, are in such disarray that the department cannot say "specifically what it received" for most of the $1.2 billion it has paid the company since 2004 to train the police officers in Iraq.'

Imagine if this had come out during the Clinton administration--the State Deparmtnet couldn't say 'specifically what it received' for over a billion dollars, say, to a democractic crony company. But now, a shrug, 'eh' -- it's only billions of taxpayer dollars going down the toilet. It's to republicans, after all. Who cares?

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Trippi is better than Shrum and Mark Penn, who is a freaking disaster. But frankly every Dem or [R] consultant I've ever met is pretty much in it all for themselves. I really don't understand why the candidates bother.

I think sometimes there is a fine line though, Mark, between compromise and selling your soul...

Btw, congrats on your kids, they sound like great young adults. Your daughter, as an anthro, must be thrilled to be in Bath--so much fabulous history there. I was there once, and then to Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge on the same weekend. Overwhelming and amazing.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Piling on with the rest of the regulars: "... a markedly more aggressive attack on what he says is Clinton's poll-tested commitment to the status quo..."

Which, I cannot help but note, seems to be doing nothing whatsoever for Edwards according to the latest polls. Hyperbole aside, Mr. Trippi appears to be all hat, no cattle.

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 23, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I understand the phrase

"transactional politics"

to encompass the give and take of ideas and the compromise among views, rather than the bargain between good and evil, or the sale of the soul.

So count me as someone who thinks of "Trippi" with "trepidation".

Inability to compromise in politics describes the Bush Administration, but not John McCain. It may now describe John Edwards, but not Joe Biden.

Too pure for process is too self righteous for me.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 23, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Are any of these Democratic political consultants worthwhile? They all seem like a bunch of hacks, with records of being part of many losing campaigns. And they always use the same strategy, twisting every candidate into their idea of what a candidate should be. None of them have any accomplishments or new ideas, but people keep listening to them.

I'll say this for Trippi, though: He's not Bob Shrum.

Posted by: Blarg | October 23, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

'Not to mention, I hear the guy thinks he is the greatest thing since warm toast.'

Yeah, pretty much all he can talk about is Joe. You are absolutely right, andy.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Joe Trippi is a hack. Why he is still in the buisness is beyond me. He ran Dean's campaign into the ground and threw Dean under the bus to save his own rearend.
Not to mention, I hear the guy thinks he is the greatest thing since warm toast.

Also he has the definition of a DC insider mindset which is counter to the whole message of the Edwards campaign. I still believe that Edwards has a chance but if he wins it will be despite Trippi not because of him.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 23, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, CC, Trippi is no cult figure. You guys in the Beltway Bubble tend to overestimate your importance to the rest of us.

Richard Cohen has a sensible piece today, about the War of Rudy's Mouth, well-named.
The United States cannot make war all over the globe, leading the West in a resumption of the crusades against the Islamic East. '

Hey, did you all know that Erik Prince and the top guys in Blackwater are member of the Knights of Malta, an 11th century extremist organisation who thinks they really are still fighting the Crusades? If you really understood the deeply irrational and wildly delusional mindset of our so-called leaders, you would be rightfully terrified.

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

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