Monday, 25 October 2010 20:42

Joe Lockart: US Elections, Obama, Tea Party, Vitter

Written by stephen-sabludowsky
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How do the Elections of 2010 compare to that of the recent past?

Will the Republicans be able to pull off victories in Congress?  Is the David Vitter US Senate campaign doing what it takes to get re-elected?


One of the political consultants most able to answer these questions is Joe Lockart, the former Press Secretary for the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996. Lockart also handled the White House media for the Clinton Administration during the Monica Lewinsky days.

Bayoubuzz interviewed Lockart about the 2010 elections, comparisons to the Clinton era and the Louisiana US Senate race.

Below are summaries of the audio-telephone interviews:  Click on the links to hear the short excerpts:

How is Washington DC right now?

“It’s one of those usual times in Washington where most of the action has moved outside of Washington.”  Washington DC is reasonably quiet.  Consultants are criss-crossing around country going with their clients.  “You know we are getting near Election Day when it gets quiet here in DC.”

How does this election season compare to the 1996 battle when you served as press secretary for the Clinton-Gore campaign?

There are certain similarities and basics to elections—you must get more people out to vote than does your opponent.  It is still about connecting with voters.  Back then, there was no Facebook or Youtube.  For some candidates, those can be a real risk.

Where is the passion in the Elections for 2010?

2008 certainly was a passionate election particularly among young people.  I do not know if we have seen passion like that since the civil rights days and Vietnam war and its aftermath.

Don’t know if we have that passion this year where both sides are passionate.

Republicans are counting on negative passions to sweep out a lot of Democrats

Depending upon how many people come out to send a message and that “will dictate whether the Republicans take over congress again”.

Recently, President Obama had a rally with approximately 35,000 students attended.  Will President Obama be able to generate that kind of passion as in the prior election?

Doubtful that he will be able to generate the levels of interests, passion, voting .  Question is how much is the drop out.  Particularly for young people, the question is whether or not they vote at all.  In 2008 whole new class of people were involved.  It is an open question as we go into the month of November regarding what the young voters will do.

Comparing the religious right in 1996, and now the Tea Party, are there now any social issues resonating?

In 1996, booming economy and country people think we were heading in right direction.

“I don’t think this president is to blame”, inherited very serious problem long time to fix.  But politics is politics and you have to live with the good and the bad.

Country does not respond to extremism rather than on left or right.  We are a center country.

Some of the candidates the Tea party have pushed are out of the mainstream and will have transformed some races that could have been straight forward and much more competitive

Very interesting struggle going on as to whom is in charge:  Is it the practical, traditional conservatives or the more radical tea party elements that are trying to nominate candidates who make them feel good but who make it difficult for them to win elections.

What about the Louisiana US Senate race with David Vitter and Charlie Melancon:

The Republican strategy is not that hard to figure out.

If I were Sen. Vitter, the last thing I want this election to be would be a referendum on Sen. Vitter.

The Republicans are trying to make it about Obama, not cooperate, not trying to solve problems, it has been about “put us back in power in 2010”.  That type of short term strategy can work.  It is working for many Republicans.  Governing is about getting things done, politics is about getting elected.  Hard to criticize strategist for doing things that work, however, on the other words, voters should demand more from their candidates as to what they are going to do rather than just what they are not going to do.

Prediction for the US Congressional election:

Democrats will hold the Senate. House will go down to wire. Republicans will pick up seats and part is due to the fact that democrats have picked up a lot of seats during the last two cycles.

The Democrats will pick up a lot of seats and the Democrats will control the House moving forward

A week after the 2010 midterm elections, the Bipartisan Policy Center is heading to New Orleans for its annual Political Summit, Beyond the Ballot: Making Washington Work. The day-long policy conference will feature prominent Republican and Democratic political strategists discussing whether the new Congress and the President can effectively work together to tackle the problems facing the nation.

McKinnon writes a regular column for The Daily Beast

Interview by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of

About Joe Lockart

Joe Lockhart is a Founding Partner and Managing Director of The Glover Park Group and former chief spokesman and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1998-2000.

Lockhart, a veteran of political campaigns, served as Senior Advisor to Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. He has also served as National Press Secretary for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, Deputy Press Secretary for the 1988 Dukakis-Bentsen campaign, and Assistant Press Secretary for the 1984 Mondale-Ferraro campaign. In 1980, he was Regional Press Coordinator for President Carter’s re-election bid.

An award-winning journalist, Lockhart has worked for both network and cable news outlets. He previously held posts as Assignment Editor at ABC News and Deputy Assignment Manager for CNN in Washington. Lockhart also served as foreign producer for SKY Television News, Europe’s first 24-hour television broadcast news service. Lockhart received a B.A. from Georgetown University.

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