Tv Moments That Make You Cringe

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 19, 2008

Tv Moments That Make You Cringe

Ouch. 

Memo to the Obama campaign: When you put up surrogates on national television, make sure they can answer a basic question like lilke "can you name anything your candidate has accomplished in office." 

Right now, MSNBC is running a debate between surrogates for each campaign. Chris Matthews put the question to the Obama surrogate, state senator Kirk Watson.  And Watson said ... nothing.  Matthews then came back to him and pressed him on it: "List Barack Obama's accomplishments in the U.S. Senate right now."  And Watson said ... nothing.  Again.

It was about as awkward a moment as I've seen on tv in a long time.  And the Clinton surrogate (whose name I didn't catch) jumped all over it.

Afterwards, Keith Olbermann gave Matthews a hard time about this -- pointing out, subtly, that campaigns are supposed to prep their surrogates and, in this case, somebody obviously forgot.  In other words, viewers shouldn't conclude from this exchange that Obama hasn't accomplished anything worthwhile.  (He has, particularly if you include his time in Illinois, though Clinton's record may still be better.)

Now, it would be fair to conclude that perhaps the Obama communications shop needs to work on its surrogate prep.  Then again, it's a bit unfair to criticize a campaign that -- by virtually any measure -- is on an incredible roll right now.

--Jonathan Cohn 

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