There is an old saw that says "All Politics is Retail." I'm not saying that isn't true. But I think it can be said nowadays that all politics is also marketing. Or, as Yogi Berra says, "90% of winning in baseball is pitching, and the other half is defense."
I'm seeing candidates, God help us all, start to position for the 2008 Presidential run. These are the early brand positionings:
Senator Joe Biden: "I'm passionate, smart, experienced. I have the gravitas of a Dick Cheney, but the sensitivity of Bill Clinton."
Senator Bill Frist: "I'm a caring conservative physician. I'm pro-life, anti-war (unless the President thinks otherwise). I'm just what the doctor ordered."
Newt Gingrich: As amazing as this sounds, Gingrich is serious comer. Watch him on TV and it's clear he is positioning himself as the only logical torch carrier of George W. Bush's brand of conservativism. He's almost lockstep with W on the war, Social Security and Medicare. He puts forth meaningless platitudes about re-making healthcare like a pro. And he sees a personality void in the GOP when W retires that he naturally thinks only he can fill. He may actually be right. So what if he married his high school Math teacher.
Jeb Bush: The evangelicals don't like him as much as they do Frist and Gingrich. And he hasn't the same stomach for pandering to religious radicals as his brother. With McCain and Frist in the fray, it becomes hard for Jeb to distinguish his own brand, which is different from his brother's. Jeb is waiting for the party to come to him. He's the reluctant Bush.
John McCain: The great conciliator. The Democrats' favorite Republican. Only if Iraq is still raging will the GOP draft McCain who has no appeal with the Christian Right. And McCain lost many Democratic backers by propping up Bish instead of sitting quietly on the sidelines.
Rudolph Giuliani: "I'm the new John McCain. I will make a handsome living from everyone believing I will run for President, even though I never will.
John Kerry: Next time its Viet Who? Viet What? Kerry will try again to define himself, and he will fail.
Al Gore: You didn't think I would run again, but I feel the country needs me.
Hillary Clinton: I do not choose to run.