A lot of politicians — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter come readily to mind — are much more impressive one-on-one and in small gatherings than they are in more formal presentations. It’s a personality and a persona thing. It shouldn’t matter as much as it does — but it does.
It’s not an issue for Pam Iorio, the mayoral frontrunner and a media maven.
She’s as good on camera as off. As good with a small group of true believers as with a pack of chad-chary journalists. As good in front of a big audience as a more intimate candidate forum. Everything about her presence says she cares and she’s credible. She’s also positive — and often positively visionary and vague.
It is, however, an issue for Frank Sanchez. Especially after Iorio jumped in and skewed everything.
Not that Sanchez isn’t well spoken. Not that he can’t connect. But there are times when it appeared he hadn’t run for office since his student council days. As when he was the only candidate not looking at the camera at a recent televised debate. As in those flat television ads meant to introduce him to the voters. As in showing up at the Mayor’s roast sans jokes.
For all the money his campaign raised, one wonders why it wasn’t better allocated to making sure the messenger was as well prepared as the “growing the economy” message. Why, frankly, he didn’t get more video work. He’s telegenic, well informed and a quick study. He didn’t need an overhaul, just help.
And when the inevitable gaffes occurred, such as the Ye Mystic Krewe flip-flop flap, why wasn’t he counseled to do the obvious? To wit: Reiterate that on principle you believe discrimination is always wrong and that won’t change, and you’re not ducking the question like the other candidates, including the lone female. Hear out the YMK callers, let them vent and remind them that as mayor you can’t do anything about it anyhow. Wink over the phone, if you have to. Trust that they — as business pillars not ersatz pirates — have nowhere else to go.
I was reminded of all this at a recent Sanchez rally at Stump’s Supper Club in Channelside. Thurgood Marshall Jr., a Sanchez colleague from the Clinton days, was in town to endorse his friend. The crowd was animated and the (wine) bar open.
And Sanchez hit his marks — and stride. From “West Wing” tales that were genuinely funny to a blueprint for Tampa’s economy and community investment that was impressively impassioned and forceful. A killer resume working the house.
Here’s some campaign advice. If this happens again, bottle it.
Better yet, videotape it.