Looking at the rapidly filling parking lot of 2008 presidential candidates, it's clear that too few have that new car smell and a handful need a trip to the political version of MTV's Pimp My Ride. Let's call it "Pimp My Candidate" and ask message man Frank Luntz for some words and visuals the pols could use to polish their candidacies. "That's easy," says the author of the new book Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear.
On the Democratic side, we'll start with new fave Sen. Barack Obama. Luntz says he should talk about "hope" and "opportunity" and simply use his remarkable life story as the visual. "He's a natural," says Luntz, who cautions: "Out with the sound bites and in with the stories." Not surprisingly, Luntz says Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton should use hubby Bill as her visual and mouth words like "mission" and "finally"--as in a woman president.
Across the aisle, Luntz wants Sen. John McCain to talk about his trademark "reform" and "accountability." Olympics exec and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney should highlight "competence" and "good governance" and use the Olympic symbol lots. Luntz pal Rudy Giuliani should talk "success" and "results" and use the cleaned-up Times Square for his backdrop. And every candidate should brag: "I'm a leader in times of crisis." See the whole Luntz list at www.usnews.com/whispers.
By Paul Bedard