Ask the Campaign Doc: Five Diagnoses for What Ails the Common Campaign

Q: YouTube channel or video embedded in our own website? A: Go with YouTube and feature your channel prominently on your website.

Q: YouTube channel or video embedded in our own website?

A: Go with YouTube and feature your channel prominently on your website. Why pay extra for a service that is free, readily available and easy to use? As an indie film director recently put it, “This generation doesn’t dream in black and white—they all dream in YouTube.”

Q: I am trying to give a friend advice. He has two campaign offers: One is statewide with less responsibility, and the other is a congressional with more responsibility. Which is the better career move? My friend is a terrific person, and I want him to land in a good place.

A: Impossible to give “torpedoes-be-damned” counsel without more facts, but here goes: If your friend wants to stay close to home, the statewide race might be the ticket to meet elected officials, consultants and donors who work out of or have contacts in the state capital; likewise for meeting similar folks in local leadership positions. But if he has early onset Potomac Fever, the congressional campaign could put him on a better trajectory.

Q: We must make time for the candidate to go to the gym every day. Is this realistic? What do we need to give up to find the time?

A: Exercise maintains focus, fights jet lag, mitigates the effects of sampling snacks at events and is a great way to kick off a day of meetings, appearances and speeches. If the candidate is traveling, book a hotel with a fitness room. It’ll pay off, as long as the wellness regimen isn’t used as an excuse to cancel or shorten phone time and important meetings. As for what to give up—say goodbye (no surprise) to sleep.

Q: I don’t understand why this is so hard: My candidate wants to pay for the field program of a colleague who has little money and is in a hard race, but the lawyer says no. Why would an attorney get in the middle of this rather than help find a way to make it happen?

A: The road to disgrace is paved with politicians who have ignored legal advice, so lose the attitude even if you think your attorney is being obstructive. Instead, explain the real goal (to help a colleague) and see if there’s a politically acceptable way to do so without becoming a scofflaw. If not, that’s life—accept it and move on. As for the endangered colleague, the real issue is why he or she has done such a poor job getting ready for the election and now needs to be bailed out. Sounds like negligence, but we’ll leave those recriminations to you and your boss.

Q: What do you think of letting the candidate do the initial draft of her stump speech and then having the staff edit what she writes? That’s her preference, though she’s open to what we think is best.

A: Here’s a better approach: One, talk with the candidate to determine what she thinks should be the core themes of the speech. Two, go to several events and listen to what she is currently saying. Three, organize your notes into an outline, brief her on the general approach and get additional feedback. Four, draft a speech with input from your consulting team. Five, share the speech with the candidate to see how she would like to tweak and polish it. Then you’ll find out whether she’s really open to what you all think is best.

Craig Varoga has run local, state and presidential campaigns for twenty years and specializes in independent expenditures as a partner at Independent Strategies. Send questions using Facebook or e-mail

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