The art of the presidential announcement(s)

at 03:35 PM ET, 06/28/2011


Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., makes her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Rep. Michele Bachmann made it official on Monday in Iowa, formally announcing that she was running for president in 2012.

It came two weeks to the day after another major announcement from the Minnesota Republican: that she was running for president in 2012.

Yes, you read that right. In the space of a fortnight, Bachmann announced for president twice.

Welcome to the world of the modern presidential campaign announcement where candidates and their campaigns do everything they can to get multiple bites at the media coverage apple by, in essence, saying the exact same thing again and again.

While Bachmann’s two-pronged announcement is the most recent example of how candidates work to game the ever-more-voracious appetite of political journalism, it’s far from the only one in the 2012 campaign.

To wit:

* Jon Huntsman: The former Utah governor officially announced his candidacy last week at an event at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. But, a week before, the news leaked that he was running — confirmed by people familiar with the decision. In the run-up to his formal announcement Huntsman’s campaign released a series of web videos featuring a lone motorcycle rider cruising through the desert.

* Tim Pawlenty: In late March, Pawlenty announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee via two-minute web video. On May 22, a Sunday, Pawlenty released another web video in which he announced he was running. The next day in Iowa, he, well, announced he was running — again.

* Newt Gingrich: It all began for the former House Speaker back in February when a senior political adviser said he was going to form an exploratory committee for the race. His campaign quickly denied he was planning to do any such thing. Then on May 9 his campaign announced that he would announce that he was running — but not until May 11. On the actual day, Gingrich tweeted that he was running, released a web video that amounted to a formal announcement and appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to say that, yes, he was running.

* Mitt Romney: The Republican frontrunner took a surprisingly streamlined announcement approach — especially when compared to his Republican rivals. He formed an exploratory committee — with a web video announcement — in April and then formally declared his candidacy in New Hampshire in the beginning of June.

From a candidate’s perspective, it’s easy to see why more is more when it comes to the act of announcing for president.

Ask any political operative what the best day of a candidacy — that doesn't end in the White House — is and they will almost uniformly respond: “The first day”.

That’s because a candidate’s formal announcement is just like opening day in baseball. Hope springs eternal and anyone — from longshot to frontrunner — can see a path to victory for themselves.

Adding to that wellspring of optimism is the fact that the coverage of a candidate’s announcement is typically quite positive, detailing relevant biographical information and featuring excerpts of the speech itself.

So, why not — if the news media allows it — have three or more opening days?

The entire game in these early days of a presidential primary fight is to get your name and story out to as many people — particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire — as possible. Basic math tells you that announcing twice or even three times broadens the universe of people who hear about it.

What the candidates and their campaigns are doing then is simply taking advantage of the unable-to-be-sated political media world in which saying the same thing two weeks apart amounts to news.

(For the record, the Fix is on the forefront of guilty parties here as we have written about every announcement mentioned above — often in great detail.)

When will the ever-growing number of “official” announcements end? Probably when the media stops covering them as news events. In other words: no time soon.

 
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