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Happy Memorial Day!

Here are a few stories of note, today:

There is an article in the Washington Post about how CA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is moving to the left. That’s the substantive angle of the article, but this excerpt is what caught my attention:

“He is very gubernatorial now,” Jeffe said. “You almost never see him out without a shirt and tie. And he’s surrounded by a lot of Democrats, as much as or even more than Republicans.”

If you’ve read my recent Campaigns & Elections article, “Dress for Political Success,” you know that candidates can use their wardrobe to underscore their message. Depending on your goals, a candidate may want to wear a suit (and be portrayed as more “serious”), or roll-up his sleeves and be portrayed as an average “joe sixpack.”

Clearly, Ah-nold is attempting to be taken more seriously.

… Speaking how image affects credibility, The Washington Post has a piece today about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley—and his background as a musician (until recently he played in an Irish Rock band).

O’Malley is currently running for the Democrat nomination for governor. If he wins, he will face Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich. Will O’Malley’s background as a local “rock star” humanize him and help him connect with average voters? Or will it show that he is an egomaniac who can’t be taken seriously??? That is the question.

… O’Malley’s fellow Marylander, Michael Steele, is featured in Bob Novak column today.

It seems Steele has taken a page from Gov. Schwarzenegger (both have decided its smart politics to run against Bush, this cycle.) Unlike Schwarzenegger, however, Steele is criticizing Bush more on style than substance. He is also criticizing him for mishandling Katrina.

I really believe there is a niche out there for a candidate running for president to get to the right of Bush and basically run for president against Bush—from the right. Steele isn’t running for president, but he seems to be the first credible person who is hitting those talking points and walking that tight-rope. Let’s see how it works.

… Lastly, I am very impressed with Elizabeth Vargas’ comments today about her being replaced as the co-anchor of ABC’s “World News Tonight.” Her classy comments were not only the right thing to do—it was good politics, too. It’s a long ballgame. I think she may end up back behind that desk in a few years.

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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