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Democrats Plot Aggressive Press Strategy

Anita Kumar

The difference in how presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain are approaching this fall's election in Virginia can be seen in the campaigns' press strategies.

While McCain and the Republicans are taking a regional approach when it comes to selling their message, Obama and the Democrats have embraced a local strategy.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, already had a Virginia communications director, Kevin Griffis. On Monday, the campaign also hired press secretary Ashley Etienne. The Campaign for Change, an off-shoot of the Obama campaign, hired press secretary Clark Stevens two weeks ago. All three are based in Obama's Richmond headquarters.

While that may sound like a lot of overlap, Democratic officials say its a testament to their committment to get Obama's message out in the local, as well as the national, media.

Earlier today, the Obama campaign organized a conference call for Virginia reporters with former Energy Secretary Frederico Pena, who was responding to an ad McCain is running in Northern Virginia about Obama 's energy policies.

Because only Virginia reporters were on the call, Pena was able to localize his message, including at one point mentioning the traffic problems in Northern Virginia and the debate in Hampton Roads over the question of offshore drilling.

Besides Obama's Virginia-based press team, the Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, paid for by the state Democratic party to help elect Democrats across the state, has its own communications director, Jared Leopold. The state party also had a spokeswoman but she recently left and Leopold is filling in.

Meanwhile, McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has Gail Gitcho, a communications director for the entire mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.

The Republican Party of Virginia also has a press secretary, Gerry Scimeca.

By Anita Kumar  |  July 22, 2008; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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