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How to run your campaign

January 24, 2008|Andy Cowan | Special to The Times

Now that Decision '08 is finally here, it's time to shine a light on that other world of imagery, manipulation and empty promises: the politics of dating.

Decision No. 1: to throw your hat into the ring. Is it something you can't live without? Are you effective at pretending to be someone you're not to attract potential supporters? Are you prepared to throw all your dirty laundry under the microscope, or if it becomes an "issue," into the hamper?

What separates you from the other candidates? Why do you deserve the voters' allegiance? Allow me to take over as your campaign manager.

Maybe you've had a string of less-than-fulfilling encounters with the opposite sex that never went the distance. Great! You have experience. Wear it as a badge of honor, and the false confidence it bestows upon you could bring out the leader in you.

Maybe your less-than-social life up until now has left you feeling a tad rusty. Great! Play down the value of experience. Experience leads to an unclean slate. Instead of voting for all those failed relationships-to-be, you had the foresight to vote against them from the get-go. What are a bunch of notches in a belt compared to good judgment? As for your future, tell them you aim to change things for the better. How can they not respect the "change" word, unless it's you on a date asking the waiter for some tip money back?

Do you remember when JFK was shot, while your desired "constituency" can barely remember when JR was shot? No problem. Summon a twinkle in your eye and tell them you have no intention of exploiting the youth and inexperience of the more age-appropriate candidates out there. Hey, it worked for Reagan.

During the campaign, it's important to remember that you're selling yourself as the candidate they'd be most comfortable welcoming into their homes. You need to connect with their hearts, listen to their hopes and dreams -- or at least look like you're listening. You need to show your serious and fun sides, even if you have to stage the fun side like Kerry did. But it's OK to be a flip-flopper. Especially if you change your mind and decide her cat is OK after all. But learn from the first Bush and be careful about promising something you ultimately renege on, or she may never kiss your lips again, let alone "read" them. But she will accurately recall every word of your earlier failed pledge quicker than Tim Russert.

After she agrees to exclusively date you, you've secured "the nomination." Congratulations! This is when you can begin moving to the center and ease off on your earlier campaign rhetoric.

And what about your constituent/running "mate"? Is she reasonably comfortable with your positions? (Those I can allude to in a family newspaper?) Does she complement you by bringing strengths you may lack to "the ticket"? Maybe you're urbane. She's earthy. Worked for JFK and LBJ.

After you've won a few debates (including the one about a prenup), she will, you hope, elect to honor your ultimate request for her vote on "Election Day." Come "Inauguration Day" and the reciting of your vows/oath, you've reached your coveted "honeymoon period." Now you can finally throw out your campaign pledges and display your true colors.

After the real you surfaces, she may just give birth to the most precious gift of all -- the freedom to make her voice heard next Election Day -- when she elects to "throw the bum out."


Andy Cowan can be reached through his website,

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