Did Kaine Fudge on No-Use?
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 :::
That's the question raised in this WaPo story from Michael Shear:
Two Republican women said Tuesday that they participated in an online survey in which they viewed a Kaine ad with video from the [Fairfax Chamber of Commerce] debate. They said the survey sought to determine whether voters would be angry with Kaine for breaking his word and using the footage.
Maybe this is just partisan sniping - "two Republican women" charging Kaine with a dirty trick. But Shear moves boldly on:
Kaine Communications Director Mo Elleithee refused to confirm or deny that an ad using footage from the chamber debate had been prepared or tested using an online focus group. But he said Kaine has done nothing to break the word he gave before debating.
"I'm not confirming anything about our potential advertising strategy. We don't talk about our research strategies," he said. "We haven't violated any agreements. Let's leave it at that."
Nixonian? Perhaps. Or sort of like those responses you would hear on old "60 Minutes" stories. You know, the one's where a much younger Mike Wallace runs down some dirtbag and demands to know why he's robbing old people all day, kicking puppies all night and cheating at bingo on the weekends. Smile for the camera, Mo.
But the story goes beyond a crazed denial and veers into the weird underworld of focus groups and bribery:
According to the two women -- Edie Light of Lynchburg and Denise McManaway of Harrisonburg -- a Kaine ad was part of a focus group conducted by SurveySpot.Com, a consumer research company. The ad featured an exchange in which Kilgore refuses to answer a question from debate host and NBC journalist Tim Russert.
Focus groups -- the dark underbelly of marketing. Is there a bigger waste of time and money? Yes. But some people like collecting old milk bottles and string.
Shear plays up the connections each woman has to the GOP - one works for Preston Bryant and one for the RPVA. They can't be trusted! Pay no attention to that attack ad:
"Before the clip, they said, do you think if you have taken a pledge, if there was information that would help people statewide, do you think you should still abide by that pledge," she said. "And then they showed the clip. And then they asked the same question again."
McManaway, who is a staff member for the Republican Party of Virginia, said the ad started with white letters on a black background that said: "What does Jerry Kilgore really stand for?" and ended with: "Virginia deserves a governor with a backbone."
Both women said the ad ended with Kaine saying his campaign sponsored the ad. "He definitely had a smirking smile on his face," Light said.
Smirk, eyebrow -- they've met and joined forces at last, becoming an unstoppable leer that will scare the knickers off soccer moms across Northern Virginia.
And then there's this:
A spokeswoman for Survey Sampling International, which runs the site, said she could not reveal who organized the poll because of confidentiality rules. "I think our client would be very unhappy if we did that," Diane Urso said.
Urso said participants in such online surveys are sometimes given cash payments or entered into drawings. Light and McManaway said they were not paid for taking the Virginia survey.
We can't reveal (wink, wink) who commissioned this survey (wink) because their eyebrows might get REALLY ANGRY. And honestly, if these two didn't get paid anything for watching the ad, they were ripped off. A few bucks? N -- where's the buffet? The unlimited supply of coldcuts, condiments, warm loaves of hearty bread...and a fruit cup? No where. I'd demand restitution immediately.
Oh well. At least they got their story in the Post -- and gave us all a little more insight into the lengths Kaine will go to win.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/26/2005