"Baptism By Fire" - August
Richard shooting his mouth off proved to be the end of
him as Keith took another campaign challenge. Will he
extend his winning ways once the campaign bus heads to
New York City?
First, we're fortunate to get the opinion of a local who
wants to see a candidate work for him. Gordon, our
resident New Yorker (so what if he's from Jersey), says
that the American Candidate should work to restore
Ground Zero and improve infrastructure.
That's what he thinks.
But starting today, it's a whole new game, as from here
on out, there are no statewide votes. Instead, the
candidates will be given a chance to hone their messages
and their images in front of a focus group. The question
here: are you willing to change who you are if it means
an extra vote here and there?
Helping us to that
answer is Frank Luntz, political consultant and
pollster. He's worked with Rudy Giuliani, Ross Perot,
and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Draw your own conclusions,
folks. Basically put, there will be 25 people - a
diverse group, of course, who will help refine a
candidates message. The candidates can say anything they
want that will hopefully answer the question, "why
should you be President?" The group will use hand-dials
to gauge their opinions on a second-to-second basis. The
more in agreement, the better you'll be. If the
Republicans like what they're hearing, the red line goes
up. If the Democrats like what they're hearing, the
green line goes up. The ideal candidate will shoot for
70 or higher on both lines.
Malia is up to the
firing squad first. She talks a good game, but she's not
really connecting with anyone. One thing she didn't
expect... the focus group from HELL. In fact, she's
turning off the Republican vote with the tongue ring
alone. One person is hearing a lot of cliches. Malia
cracks under the pressure. Reactions: "Alice in
Wonderland", "MTV", "No substance", "Woefully ignorant,"
"Applying for the wrong job," and "This woman is WAY out
of her league."
Joyce is next. The
Democrats take a shine to her, and the Republicans, less
so. The manager sees her attack on the Patriot Act as an
attack on the Bush administration. And watch the numbers
fall as the dogs bite back. Reactions: "Old", "No
concrete ideas", "Fork-tongued", "Oatmeal cookies". Now
that last one... I don't get. But I do get this: in an
election... not one of the 25 would vote for her.
"America doesn't want to hear what I have to say."
Park's up next, as he
believes that the war on terror is a priority for him.
And watch his red line climb. Then he plays the
evangelical Christian card... and there they go again.
Right down the crapper. Reactions: "Crazy Christian",
"Jesus freak", "Man of principle," "Compassionate
conservative", and my personal favorite... "Eh." He
didn't think he would polarize people; he just wanted to
state his beliefs.
Keith is next, and he's
the first to actually stand a chance of breaking the
70-mark with both sides of the aisle. "You want the
people who disagree with you not to tune you out the
moment you start talking." He gets a cheer and these
reactions: "Compelling," "Intelligent," "Man with a
plan," "Prepared", and finally "President Boykin."
Lisa's next. She
polarizes. Gore-backers go up to 70. Bush-backers go
down to 24. Reactions: "Classic liberal" and "Vice
President of the Boykin administration". Mother of...
Finally, it's up to
Bruce. He tells that he was assaulted by the images
coming from Ethiopia when he was 12. This was around
"Band Aid" and "We Are the World" and all that. And I'm
just... lost. He's in the middle with, well, everyone.
Reactions: "Nervous", "Whiny", "Submissive", "A parody,"
"Moo!", et cetera, et cetera.
Viewer's poll: should
Bruce stop talking about animals to get more votes?
Results in a few.
Frank is back with the
hard truth: Positive reaction for Keith, but it's one
thing for people to like you. It's quite another for
people to vote for you. People didn't see him as a
fighter, and his own CM didn't believe his performance.
Lisa is expected, as a woman in power, to be strong. She
wasn't. BUt she thinks that women were empowered. Here
comes Frank: "Get off it. You're looking for a silver
lining in a cloud that I see is dark. They want
strength. They want determination. You got to show them
why you're not Keith."
Park didn't fare any
better. Good news: he's the one Republican. Bad news:
he's the one evangelical Christian. His advice, set
context first, then answer. "Because your answer is
going to alienate Jews! And this is New York! And there
are a lot of Jews up here!" Joyce has a great bio, but
the people didn't hear any of that. She needs to connect
who she is (a nurse) with what she's about (veteran's
rights). "Bruce... uhh.. no animals!" He has to rethink
his ENTIRE strategy. And finally, Malia can be the voice
of the forgotten. But at some point, she needs to get to
the heart of the subjects or else she will be lost. She
says that she knows what she has overcome to get here.
But she needs to talk to that. "They need to feel your
pain." And the rest of the candidates feel her pain when
she starts off on how her friends were shot and how she
was homeless for a while. Big difference.
Frank then goes into
something in which I didn't even know there existed... a
political dress code. Men: suit. Women: professional.
And speaking of which,
Montel enters the fray with the results of yet another
exit poll. Once again, Keith came out on top. HOWEVER,
tonight, Frank will be teamed with the person who needs
the most help. That person... is Bruce. This is all
important because tomorrow, the candidates will face
another focus group, and the two lowest placers will
Results of the viewer
vote: 84 percent say that Bruce should stop talking
about animals in order to get more votes.
Seven hours until the
group, and Frank tells Bruce to talk specifics, to avoid
attacking the current administration, and find a way to
address the most current of issues, even if he doesn't
agree with them.
But talking game is one
thing. Looking the part is another. Enter the two
stylist from "What Not to Wear"... the US version (that
would be Clinton Kelly and Stacy London. I've been told
that I lose man points for knowing this info, I don't
care). Bruce shows them the only suit he has... and I'm
afraid double breasted, and goodwill, no-nos. If there
was a garbage bin, they'd be headed there. Clinton
suggests leather shoes and belts. Already I'm thinking
"The force is strong with this one."
So all the candidates
are going shopping for some new gear. Joyce is finding
out the hard way that navy is not in season yet. Bruce
is finally dressed as a President. Albeit against his
will. "Frankly, if he's going to wear a vintage suit he
got at Goodwill for $9, even though we're going to get
it tailored... I don't think there's a lot of hope for
him." Not a hope in hell, Stacy.
Four hours to go, and
we're GQing it up for Park, while Malia is fine-tuning
her speech. Bruce also fine-tunes his speech with
It's time for the next
focus group. How will this one react now that the
candidates will face each other rather than the group?
Keith's position polarizes left. Park's position
polarizes right. Lisa's position polarizes way more left
than Keith's. That's part one. Part two is Joyce, Malia,
and Bruce. Malia... dead even. Joyce... low left, and
almost inciting a riot. Bruce surprisingly polarizes
right. Surprisingly! He even goes so far as to say the
Patriot Act does some good things. Once again... mother
of... Keith thought that Bruce sold out.
And now, the exit poll
result, as Keith thinks that the other candidates are
trying to win, but at what cost:
Frontrunner: Park (42%)
- whom Lisa believes is a result of a Republican
polarization (Gordon called this one a while back)
2nd - Keith (21%)
3rd - Lisa (17%)
4th - Bruce (13%)
5th - Joyce (4%)
6th - Malia (3%)
"I guess the makeover
worked." Joyce and Malia will face debate. Malia kept it
real. Joyce's motto: "Don't compromise." Time to debate,
as Malia has to draw the line between compromise and
truth, calling Park out on it. Joyce says that truth
rests in question, and in question are our rights. Lisa
and Keith question her agenda on it as to how it relates
to the state of the country today, getting backtalk of
her message in return. Malia says that that position
frightens her, as to want to be President but be against
government. Arguments ensue about where rights come from
(Constitution says "our creator endowed", but who reads
that anyway? After all, it was only written to protect
the American people from themselves, right?). And after
all that, we still have time to vote.
Park: "Malia, there is
NO way I can support your issues. My vote is for JOYCE."
Keith: "MALIA, I want you to be a strong candidate."
Lisa: "Joyce, we fundamentally don't have the same
platform, whatsoever." - MALIA
Bruce: "Frank says Malia is my biggest threat." Since
when've you listened to Frank?
His vote is not
recorded. Montel reminds Park that as frontrunner, he
breaks any and all ties... but no need for that as...
"The votes have been counted. Joyce Riley, you are off
the ballot." Regrets? None, as she said the message as
far as she could. "I didn't compromise one iota."
Next time, the big
time... DC, baby, as we get into the ugliest of
political battles. That's right... The ads begin.