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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Really Early, Really Subjective Grades for the 2012 Contenders



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Brad Phillips, a former ABC News and CNN journalist who now runs a media training firm and who writes “Mr. Media Training,” a blog on that subject, offers an assessment and grades of each aspiring presidential candidate.

He has evaluated a slew of candidates — some likely to run, some not — on seven criteria, which Phillips asserts:

have held true for every general election since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980: 1) The candidate with the clearest message has always won. 2) The candidate who articulated the clearer vision has always won. 3) The sunnier candidate with the more optimistic message has always won. 4) The candidate whose message is best aligned with constituent concerns has always won. 5) The more charismatic candidate has always won. 6) The candidate who appeared most comfortable in his skin has always won. 7) The candidate who uses the most plain-spoken language has almost always won.

This is an interesting analysis, but somewhat self-evident and pretty darn subjective. How do you quantify “articulating the clearer vision”? Or “most comfortable in his own skin”? It’s easy to think of Justice Potter Stewart trying to define obscenity.

For what it’s worth, Phillips gives one pure A to Marco Rubio. He gives an A- to Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee. Chris Christie earns a B+ and John Thune gets a B.

Sarah Palin earns only a C+, and Cs go to Mitch Daniels, Gary Johnson, Tim Pawlenty, and Mike Pence, while Newt Gingrich gets a C-. Rick Santorum is at the bottom of the pack (next to Donald Trump) with a D.

Phillips considered Barack Obama an A back in October 2008, but thinks he’s a C currently.


Tags: 2012


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