Author Topic: Analysis | The Daily 202: How Mike Bloomberg scared off Anthony ...  (Read 100 times)


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The stable of operatives kept on retainer by Bloomberg were especially nervous about Weiner for several reasons: His fights with Republicans on Capitol Hill had energized liberals. He was a hard worker and could raise money from the Clinton network — because his then-wife, Huma Abedin, was Hillary’s top aide – but he also was “a Jewish guy with an Italian first name … [who] came from white ethnic Queens,” Tusk explains. “Weiner had to be stopped before he started,” he writes. “You have to pick your enemies whenever you can. You have to strangle the baby in the crib.”

Here are six of the hardball tactics that they came up with, which political junkies will appreciate:

Oppo: Weiner playead hockey with friends every Tuesday night in Chelsea Piers. Bloomberg’s campaign sent a photographer to stake out the rink each week. When Weiner skipped votes in the House to man the goal, they sent the photos to the New York Post — which ran them with the headline: “Weiner’s a Pucking Goof-Off.” Tusk also takes credit for pitching other negative stories to the New York Post about Weiner, including his work to get more visas for female models and taking campaign contributions from foreign nationals.

A very targeted field program: Normally door knocking wouldn’t begin until the summer, but Bloomberg hired canvassers starting in early April to focus on the neighborhoods where Weiner and his parents lived. “Of course the door knock itself meant almost nothing that early in the campaign, but when Anthony’s mom opened the door and there we were, it sent a message,” writes Tusk. “When Anthony’s neighbors all said they’d already been door knocked, it sent a message.”

Digital: Now every serious campaign does it, but geo-targeting was a novel concept in 2009. You can pick a Zip code and buy the banner ads that appear on websites people visit in that area. Bloomberg consultant Jonah Seiger bought up all the available ad inventory in Weiner’s neighborhood. “Every time Anthony opened his computer, we wanted him to see us,” writes Tusk. “Every time, he logged off, we wanted to be the last thing he saw.”

Lobbying: They made diagrams, charts and lists of people friendly to Bloomberg who were connected to Weiner. They carefully courted these people and tracked when they’d commit to call Weiner and tell him he couldn’t win. “In politics, perception is reality,” writes Tusk.

Earned media: Tusk told the New York Times that Bloomberg would spend an extra $20 million on negative ads if Weiner ran, and they made sure he saw the story.

Paid media: Bloomberg’s pollsters Doug Schoen and Bernard Whitman had worked at the same firm as Weiner’s pollster Joel Benenson. Schoen said he knew how Benenson thought and how he talked to clients. They said he would advise Weiner to run if he was down by less than 10 points on Memorial Day weekend. Because Weiner wasn’t a candidate, they couldn’t run negative ads against him. But money was no object, so Bloomberg spent massively in April to run positive ads promoting himself. It was designed entirely to drive up his positives before Benenson went into the field. “If you run enough positive ads without anyone on the air against you, you can move your numbers,” Tusk writes. “The support may be soft, but at least short-term, it registers.”

Tusk wound up becoming fabulously wealthy because Uber hired him after he worked for Bloomberg to fight back against opposition from the taxi cab industry. The new ride-sharing company didn’t have enough cash to pay him when it sought his help, so he agreed to take a share in the company — which is today reportedly worth something like $100 million. Now Tusk works with other start-ups, ranging from the nascent cannabis industry to online gambling sites, to help them navigate their regulatory challenges in exchange for equity. (That’s still relatively little compared to Bloomberg, who Forbes says is the 10th richest man in America with $46.6 billion.)

Before he worked for Bloomberg, Tusk had been Chuck Schumer’s communications director. He writes that the press-hungry Schumer took it hard when Hillary got elected to the Senate in 2000 and overshadowed him. Tusk recounts his herculean efforts to blunt a bad story about the bad relationship between Schumer and Clinton. The same day he succeeded, in his telling, Schumer yelled at him because he thought HRC had taken credit for one of his initiatives during an event in Buffalo. Feeling unappreciated, Tusk decided to quit.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 01:27:40 PM by YELLO »