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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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October 23, 2007 11:08 AM

What should Rossi say?

Posted by David Postman

Suspend, if you can, your personal feelings about Dino Rossi. Democrats and Republicans, if you can set aside the party talking points for a morning, let's play political consultant.

What would you tell Rossi to say Thursday when he announces his second campaign for governor? For example, I've been wondering how much time he'll spend in his announcement talking about 2004 and his drawn out battle against Gov. Christine Gregoire. Does it help to make this about a rematch and Rossi's attempt to claim — or reclaim as he'd say — what Republicans think is rightfully his?

(Try to avoid the nasty comments or the attacks dressed up as advice.)

Announcement speeches are not meant for specifics. But Thursday is a key day for Rossi in that for the first time since he lost his legal challenge in 2005 he will be talking as a candidate.

Since then he's sidestepped any question he didn't want to answer by saying he wasn't a candidate. Now he is, and Thursday is a chance to give a broad outline of what the campaign will be about. Is it about state finances and what he fears is a coming budget crisis? Is it about the favorite Republican theme that Democrats have held the office just too long and it's time for a change?

One thing I think would be a mistake. During his tour of the state, Rossi said at one stop that Gregoire had begun to copy his good ideas. What does that leave Rossi then for a campaign? "She's doing what I'd do, but I thought of it first"? That's hardly, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

I think John Carlson, who ran for governor for the GOP in 2000, fell into a similar trap. He continually talked about what a nice guy Gov. Gary Locke was, and even that they agreed on many issues. But Carlson said he'd show true leadership in Olympia. The leadership gap didn't do much as voters chose the nice governor for a second term.

One side note: In today's stories Jill Strait is quoted as Rossi's spokeswoman. Until recently she was the press secretary to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. I heard she left D.C., and wondered where she'd show up next.


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