- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2011

THE BIG SQUAWK

Forget the President Obama mask. The most “sought after” adult Halloween costumes of 2011 are Angry Birds, of Rovio mobile app fame, this according to Buy.com, the massive online retailer that has 60,000 costumes to choose from. The Angry Birds look is in the $60 range. The purveyor also suggests that couples opt for matching “bacon and eggs” costumes. He’s the bacon, she the eggs. See it all at www.buy.com.

HO-HUM

“Fewer are tracking Wall Street protests than early tea party protests,” says a News Interest Index from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. “In mid-April 2009, news about early tea party protests made up 7 percent of coverage, identical to the amount of coverage devoted to the anti-Wall Street protests over the past week. But public interest today is significantly lower than it was in 2009 — just 17 percent say they are following the current protests very closely, compared with 27 percent who followed early tea party protests very closely.”

The partisan divide: 43 percent of Republicans intently followed the tea party coverage, compared with 12 percent who currently follow the Wall Street protesters. Among Democrats: 18 percent followed the tea party then, and uh, 17 percent follow the Wall Streeters now.

ADORABLE PROTEST

The warm and fuzzy trajectory of the Wall Street protesters continues, with a sympathetic media and canny marketing. Consider that the Media Research Center found that ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts “cheered” for Occupy Wall Street rallies 33 times in the first 11 days of October. And the tea party? The broadcasters aired just 13 stories on the movement during 2009.

“While tea partiers were portrayed as racist and rude yokels, the Occupy Wall Street crowd has been portrayed in a decidedly more positive light with reporters highlighting cute schoolkids holding up signs in opposition to corporate America and even featured a kindly grandmother baking cookies for the crowd,” says researcher Geoffrey Dickens.

Meanwhile, the AARP is now covering Wall Streeters, noting in a bulletin, “Older Americans join in street protests. Joblessness, ruined retirement plans among the concerns of Occupy Wall Street movement.” The rallies have already been cast as a “rescue of the American dream” and a “middle-class uprising” by organizer Van Jones and others. Now the Democratic party is polishing the image for potential political benefit.

“It’s time to expand the fight beyond major cities and into the suburbs, the countryside, everywhere,” says Charles Chamberlain, political director of Democracy for America. “Local occupations outside of major cities may never be able to reach the kind of critical mass that will turn heads and force elected leaders to respond. Small towns and rural areas standing up and getting involved is the most likely way to help build this movement to the next level.”

Mr. Chamberlain’s strategy? He suggests supporters get themselves an Occupy Wall Street lawn sign that proclaims, “We are the 99 percent,” available for a $16 donation -“so Americans everywhere can join the movement,” he says.

CANDIDATE TRACKER

The mighty eight Republican presidential hopefuls are gearing up for their big GOP-goes-to-Sin City moment, where what happens in Vegas will be broadcast to the whole world. CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference join forces Tuesday night for yet another debate, this one at the opulent Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, to be followed by a four-day conference of Republican leaders from 13 Western states and three territories.

In the meantime, here’s where the candidates will be in the next 48 hours: In Iowa, Rep. Michele Bachmann will ironically host a rally in the town of Perry, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be in Cedar Valley. Then there’s New Hampshire (Jon Huntsman Jr.), Oregon (Mitt Romney), Pennsylvania (Mr. Perry) and Tennessee (Herman Cain).

PERRIFIED

Can beleaguered Gov. Rick Perry — once the lone star of the Republican field — dig in his boot heels and survive? As they say in Texas, hed better hustle.

“Political candidates for office need to realize that they are auditioning every single minute for the highest profile, toughest job in the world, and they will make missteps. The key in crisis communications is to minimize the damage done by mistakes. It’s impossible to eliminate them, but the key is simply to minimize any missteps which are made,” Ronn Torossian, CEO of Manhattan public relations agency 5WPR, tells Inside the Beltway.

“Despite amazing publicity of Perry entering the race, his candidacy has been subpar to date where he has raised plenty of questions about whether he’s ready for the big time. Perry simply seems uncomfortable on the stage and is a candidate without direction — not what we want from the president. He needs to recover from this negative image immediately or will very quickly no longer be seen as a viable presidential candidate.

Mr. Torissian’s new book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” will be published Tuesday.

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent of likely Republican voters say that if he wins the nomination, Mitt Romney is “at least somewhat likely” to beat President Obama in 2012.

• 72 percent say the same of businessmanHerman Cain, 67 percent of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

• 51 percent believe Mr. Romney will eventually win the nomination; 17 percent cite Mr. Cain, 13 percent Mr. Perry.

• 44 percent of tea party voters and 36 percent of evangelical Christians support Mr. Cain.

• 32 percent of both Protestant voters and “non-tea party voters” support Mr. Romney.

• 29 percent of GOP voters overall currently support Mr. Romney, 29 percent support Mr. Cain.

• 10 percent support Newt Gingrich, 9 percent Mr. Perry, 5 percent Rep. Ron Paul.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of likely GOP voters conducted Oct. 12.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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