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Swann song


Dennis Roddey, writing in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, offers a well-researched postmortem on Lynn Swann's ill-starred effort to unseat Democrat Governor Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania.

Here's a telling snippet:

In his first major break from the strategy of avoiding interviews, went on national television with George Stephanopoulos of ABC.

It turned into a disaster. Asked about abortion, Mr. Swann's answer made clear that he did not understand the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Should the court overturn that ruling, he said, abortion would be illegal. Not so, Mr. Stephanopoulos had to point out. Roe v. Wade merely limited what restrictions states could put on abortions. If it were overturned, individual states would still have to pass laws outlawing abortion.

Asked about embryonic stem cell research, he gave a line that suggested he could master the subject in due course.

"I am not an expert on stem cell research at this particular time," he said ….

Mr. Swann's advisers were stunned by his poor performance, insiders say, and kept him under wraps for much of the spring to avoid repeating the missteps.

As Roddey notes, Swann's inability to build alliances within the Pennsylvania Republican Party (especially in reaching out to supporters of Bill Scranton after their candidate was pressured into withdrawing from the primary) and his failure to establish his message until well into the fall campaign left him unable to exploit Rendell's many weaknesses.

With a competent strategy and the right campaign team (and, of course, some better speechwriting), the governor's mansion could have been Swann's for the taking. As things turned out, however, Swann  never managed to get within fewer than 20 points of Rendell.

A real shame, since it would be hard to find a more likeable, charismatic or articulate candidate than Lynn Swann.

Let's hope he's willing to give statewide office another shot in four or six years' time.   

Posted by Rodger on November 8, 2006 at 08:43 PM | Permalink


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