Editor’s note: Pho Ny Minh, deputy assistant press secretary for online media at the Bush campaign headquarters in Austin, Texas, refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of this document.
29 February 1990
To: Gov. George W. Bush, Jebby, Poppy, and Babs
From: Slogan Office—Department of Themes
Cc: Alliteration Committee
Re: Revised slogan launch schedule
Our slogan rollout continues, albeit on a slightly altered schedule.
“Reformer With Results” is working as we predicted. Yes, we had to introduce it six months early, but we should let reporters know that it was in our plans all along. When asked to comment, the governor can then admit his mistake. Humanizes him.
Here is the rest of the planned slogan launches:
1) Now through Super Tuesday: “Liberal With His Love.” We’re moving this into heavy rotation in Northern California to recapture soccer moms and closeted gays disgruntled with the governor’s perceived shift to the right. Love theme keeps Christian right on board, according to our latest polling.
2) “The Reasonable Reactionary“—As soon as the Robertson/Falwell fuss passes, we’ll do heavy buys of ads with this tag line on cable channels in East Texas, Bakersfield, and selected precincts of Orange County. (More good news: Randall Terry has agreed to do a spot for us as part of this buy.)
3) “A Muscular Moderate“—We’re working this hard in south Florida, also in key swing districts from Venice Beach to San Diego. Theme will be reinforced with free media next week when we have scheduled the governor to appear at a volleyball tournament in Daytona Beach. Plan is for him to take off his shirt during the game. We expect the networks to go with the footage. This will cut into the tanned and buff bloc, which is trending toward Gore. Added benefit: We may be able to lure McCain into taking off his shirt.
At the same time, we plan to spam Web sites devoted to veterans, golfers, weightlifters, and PalmPilot users. Message is that McCain has backed out of a previous agreement to compete against Bush in the annual VFW ProAm at La Costa Country Club. This will subtly reinforce muscularity theme without alienating females. (Spammers will cost $4,000 per day but have plausible deniability.)
4) Post-Super Tuesday (March 7-30) “Leadership That Leads.” This theme consolidates the governor’s strength (wisdom), cuts his negatives, and consolidates our lead.
5) In Texas we reinforce this LTL message by having staff emphasize to the press corps that McCain is from Arizona and reminding them of another candidate from Arizona: Barry Goldwater. Surrogates follow up with informal anti-McCain slogan: “In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts.” This wins over wavering LBJ Democrats.
(Note: Alliteration Committee had agreed to the use of this slogan, noting that it refers to the opposition, not the governor.)
6) (April 1-30) We follow up by booking the governor on Nightline, where he tells Koppel his platform is based on character, as embodied in the slogan “A Smile, Not a Smirk.”
This will confound and enrage McCain. We get valuable footage of him frowning and also neutralize the emerging anti-smirk sentiment which is trending against us 2-1.
7) Maneuver should give us crucial momentum going into the all-important Custer County beauty contest straw poll in Utah, where the grass-roots Republican electorate should be amenable to the governor’s political message that he’s a spiritually motivated “Progressive Pragmatist.”
Extensive focus group work shows that this bold but sensible theme works well with online marrieds with children over 40. Should carry us through May.
8) June-July: “A President With Pride.” This will subtly reinforce our anti-Clinton message while distracting press attention from the governor’s scheduled three weeks of policy briefings on the yacht at Kennebunkport. Ideally, we would use this time to schedule Judge Starr’s valuable endorsement.
9) Convention: We concur with Poppy’s idea of unleashing Dan Quayle in a nationally televised keynote address. Latest draft of his speech has him calling George “A Father With Faith.” This introduces our candidate to the wider electorate, nails down the anti-Murphy Brown vote, and adroitly sets the stage for the rest of our launch schedule.
10) Sept. 1-15: “An Insurgent With Integrity.” This will blunt McCain’s third-party bid while confirming our core message that we really want to do things differently in Washington. Leaks to Bob Novak and the Washington Times give us powerful inside-the-Beltway buzz
11) Sept. 15-30: “A Suburbanite With Soul.” We especially like this bold play for the Democratic base. Polling shows that this theme should dramatically expand our share of the urban African-American vote (from 4 percent to 6 percent) while appealing to hipper swing voters in the edge cities.
12) Oct. 1-30: “A Centrist With a Center.” This returns to our twin strengths: a candidacy that has a real message and a candidate who has real morals.
13) Oct. 31-Election Day. In a surprise move that upsets the plans of the other candidates, we finish with a slogan that is testing extraordinarily well, conveying both a Bold Leader of the Free World message and a Guy Next Door quality: “A Golfer With Guts.”
We are pretty sure this killer closer will demonstrate that Al Gore and John McCain are both amoral elitists who are out of touch with what real Americans are really like.
14) Inauguration Day: Outline vision of “Compassionate Conservatism.”
Approved _____ Disapproved _____