Is there anything old North Carolina political wisdom can teach Barack Obama as he responds to John McCain’s choice of a running mate?
    Here is a summary of some good advice I have heard over the years from North Carolina political old timers.
    1. The Battleship Rule — set your course stay on it. Your campaign is like a warship that has an assigned mission. If you try change direction every time an enemy ship fires a shot across your bow, you will let your enemy set your course for you. And your enemy will not be leading you where you need to go. Translation: Do not let the shots from the Sarah Palin phenomenon turn your campaign away from its demonstrated strengths of hope, change and strength for our country.
    2. The Sanford Rule — respond with speed and strength. Back in 1950 when a young Terry Sanford was trying to help Frank Graham win a U.S. Senate election, he saw Graham ignore his opponent’s substantive negative messages. Graham lost. So, in Sanford’s own campaigns for governor in 1960 and the U.S. Senate in 1986, he responded quickly to every important negative message against him. His response always took the opponent’s claim and turned it around into something that showed Sanford’s positive message. He showed that he was a fighter, but he did not violate the “Battleship Rule.” Sanford always fired back quickly but did not change course. Were Sanford in Obama’s shoes today, he would be pounding McCain for his weak, impulsive, careless choice of a running mate. Nor would Sanford bow to the whines of Republicans that Palin is being unfairly treated by an examination of her record. I can hear him saying, “Since McCain forgot about vetting Palin, somebody has to do the job for the American people.” 
    {mosimage}3. The Sheriff’s Rule — don’t despair if the sheriff is for your opponent. In the old days in North Carolina, sheriffs had great power on election day. Therefore every candidate wanted the sheriff’s support. However, the Sheriff’s Rule reminded candidates that, no matter how popular the sheriff was, he also had lots of enemies. Those enemies would be good prospects to be supporters of anyone the sheriff was against. The message for Obama in the Sheriff’s Rule is this: While Sarah Palin is gathering supporters for McCain, she is also making many enemies. These people are waiting for Obama to rally them.
    4. The “Never Act Like a Victim” Rule — never hang your head down like somebody is beating you down. People don’t like their political leaders to play the “victim’s” role. They want their leaders to show a fighting spirit and respond to every adversity with personal optimism and cheer. (See the Sanford Rule above.)
    5. The “Pay Attention to Your Base” Rule — never forget the importance of keeping your core base energized. John McCain had this rule in mind when he chose Palin. Obama needs to tend to his base, but not pander to the base as McCain did.  (See the next rule.) Obama’s supporters deserve to get the information, positive about their candidates and negative their opponents that give them the spirit to work enthusiastically.
    6. The “Remember the Middle” Rule — elections are usually decided by the “persuadable” voters. Usually they are moderates. A candidate who is perceived as too far to the left or to the right loses those voters.
    7. Finally, the “Keep Your Sense of Humor” Rule — stay cheerful and upbeat and tell jokes that make a point.

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