Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Roll Call: Obama plans to use McCaskill road map to win Missouri

Claire McCaskill forged the path and Barack Obama plans to follow it.

Roll Call, the influential Washington magazine, says Obama is focusing on rural Missouri communities, just as Ms. McCaskill did when she defeated Jim Talent and was elected to the U. S. Senate two years ago:

Richard Martin, a Missouri Democratic consultant, said complacency was to blame for his party’s 2004 drubbing at the hand of Republicans.

“We got a little comfortable with running up big margins in the urban areas and competing in the suburbs — and doing extremely well there — and we forgot that about 40 percent of the state is considered rural Missouri,” Martin said. “What [McCaskill] learned from her gubernatorial race was that you have to be authentic and you have to be out there ... and that can’t always be achieved by 30-second TV ads.”

After dusting herself off, McCaskill soon had then-Sen. Jim Talent’s (R) Senate seat in her sights. Borrowing from the playbook of the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan (D), McCaskill reckoned the race would be won or lost on how many rural voters she could persuade. She enlisted Martin to run her campaign, which won 51 percent to 48 percent by turning once-ruby-red districts pink — or in some cases even sky blue.

“The decision to emphasize rural Missouri more was a decision that I made at the moment I decided to run” for the Senate, McCaskill said. “It would have been political malpractice not to notice that we needed to do better in rural Missouri.”

Democratic consultant Roy Temple agreed with McCaskill that her retuned 2006 strategy was not “rocket science.” He said it has “always been the formula,” but credited her with aggressively stumping last cycle in rural counties, where GOPers have become adept in the past decade of using wedge issues to turn Democrats into “cartoon characters.”

The article notes that Obama is listening to Ms. McCaskill's suggestion that he campaign in rural Missouri, so who knows maybe a Democratic presidential candidate will come to Joplin.

In another item, the article said, as others have speculated, that Robin Carnahan is strongly considering mounting a campaign to unseat U. S. Sen. Kit Bond.

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