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The New News Cycle: Romney and Thompson Defend Rush

Wednesday, October 3, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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As the phoney “phoney soldier” controversy swirled today –and Rush is in no hurry to end it as it reflects well on him and poorly on Senate Democrats–  Fred Thompson released a statemnt blasting the attack on Rush.  Rush was discussing it today, and e-in-box began to fill up with complaints that Mitt Romney had abandoned Rush.  I shot off a query to the Romney campaign: What is this all about?

Not only did the campaign respond immediately, Governor Romney called the show to discuss the controversy and state that Rush has “got a long record of supporting our soldiers. There’s no question that this is a man who has been very much on the side of our fighting men and women.”  (Transcript here.)

Romney went on to blast HillaryCradleCare, the $5,000 per baby grant, as did Rudy in new Hampshire today.

What the Thompson/Romney reactions to the Senate Democrat attacks on Rush and the Giuliani/Romney blast at Hillary’s boondoggle both demonstrate is that the campaigns are on continual alert to the ever smaller news cycle.  They do not intend to allow any story that might impact the race to go unremarked upon, especially those that might reflect ont heir standing with the GOP base.  An attack on Rush is an attack on the GOP base, and I will be shocked if Rudy doesn’t weigh in by COB tonight as well.

After the conclusion of the Romney interview I talked with Rob Neppell of Kithbridge.com, one of the country’s leading analysts of new media, and Rick Calvert of Blog World and New Media Expo, set to get under way on November 7 in Las Vegas.  (Disclosure: I am invested in both companies as I think both men are among the most prescient observors of new media.) Calvert and Neppell both emphatically agreed that a campaign indifferent to the virtual battles occuring outside and around the old MSM will quickly end up a victim of stories submerged beneath the old media waterline. Today’s news cycle within a news cycle confirms their view.  As Romney put it to me in response to a question:

HH: Now Governor, expanding the scope here a little bit to how the campaign has changed, today, Rudy Giuliani’s in New Hampshire, he’s at the Chocolate Moose, and he misstates where he is. He says he’s in Massachusetts. All right, the kind of stuff that happen every day on the campaign trail. But then it shows up on the Politico.com Jonathan Martin blog as being a significant issue. You’ve run statewide in Massachusetts twice. Was there anything ever like this kind of scrutiny on one word showing up and immediately becoming an issue? 

MR: Well, it is interesting today that gotcha politics is alive and well. It used to be that you had a day to clean up your mistakes. So if you made a mistake, you know, you’ve got to fix before the news cycle. But now, the news cycle is instant, and everything is made a huge matter. And you know, I’ve made at least two or three gaffes in my campaign so far. They’re made big deals by not just the media, but by the opposition. And you know, frankly, look, I’m going to mess up where I am now and then, and so will Rudy and so will John McCain and everybody else. And let’s give the process a bit of a break. 

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