November 20th, 2008
08:02 AM ET

GOP needs to catch up to Obama's Web savvy

Editor’s Note: Leslie Sanchez is a former adviser to President Bush and CEO of Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

Ever since John McCain and Howard Dean in 2000 showed the Internet's potential for fundraising, the question was always whether the Web could be effective at "GOTV," or getting-out-the-vote.

Among young voters at least, Barack Obama has proven that it can - and, in the process, he's uncovered a major flaw that cuts to the core of the Republicans' approach to party organization and discipline.

Obama poured many of his campaign's millions into his social networking operations on the Web, which his campaign rightly saw as critical to building grassroots support and enthusiasm.

A community organizer by training, occupation and nature, Obama saw his databases for the potential they represented - an army of supportive voices, a legion of potential volunteers, and a division of precinct captains.

Such is the world not just of Chicago ward organizations, but of politics everywhere.

The McCain campaign, reflecting the broader skepticism I've seen in the GOP about the Web, doubted whether the Internet could get voters out of their Barcaloungers (or, in the case of younger voters, off their futons) and into the polling booth.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Internet • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
October 28th, 2008
06:15 PM ET

Rockin' out for our vets

Program Note: 3 out of 4 young people know someone who is currently serving or has served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Anderson helps MTV shine a light on issues facing young veterans... Check out MTV.com for how to get involved.
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Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

Everyone says, nowadays, that they support the troops. It's a phrase that trips off the tongue with ease whether spoken by anti-war protesters or battle-hardened veterans of previous conflicts. In one sense, its part of the cure for 25-year long hangover America experienced after Vietnam, having overdone it on the Kool-Aid poured out by Massachusetts' John F. Kerry and other anti-war activists. Saying it makes you feel better.

But what does it really mean "to support the troops." Well, for recording artists Ludacris, 50 Cent, Hinder, O.A.R. and Saving Abel, it means sharing your talents to raise awareness so that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan can have access to physical and mental health screening, medical care, job counseling and training, education and, for those that want it, a fresh start in a new life outside the embrace of the U.S. military.

At MTV's "A Night for Vets: An MTV Concert for the BRAVE," those artists performed live along with taped performances by some of the entertainment industry's most recognizable stars, including Kanye West, Kid Rock, Angels + Airwaves, Fall Out Boy, Juanes, Nelly, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Will Ferrell, Cameron Diaz, Common, Fat Joe, Seth Green, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, James Marsden and Wyclef Jean.

Over 950 veterans and their families attended, and they no doubt could feel the love. Austin Winkler, the vocalist for the band "Hinder" explained he was there because his dad was a Marine and that it was "definitely important to take care of our veterans." FULL POST

September 25th, 2008
02:08 PM ET

The talker and the doer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.split.mccain.obama.open2.jpg]Editor’s Note: Leslie Sanchez is a former adviser to President Bush and CEO of Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

As the dust settles on today's White House meeting, the next item on the agenda is the matter of Friday's presidential debate.

John McCain wants it postponed so that he and other Senators can focus on the proposed $700 billion bailout of U.S. financial markets. Barack Obama, who says a President has to be able to multi-task, wants to go ahead as planned.

The chattering class has decreed McCain’s actions a stunt, and foretold from their klieg-lit perch that McCain will cave. I wouldn’t be so sure.

Even history’s greatest debaters took time to prepare, and any trial lawyer will tell you that the focus required to go before a jury is profoundly intense. Even for candidates who’ve each debated on many occasions, it would be a difficult task to shift focus from something like the financial rescue to a televised debate.

From the “good-government” standpoint– McCain is probably right to concentrate his energies on legislation of such consequence. McCain’s campaign describes him as putting his personal and emotional energies fully into the complexities of the bailout. He cannot, he says, participate in the intricacies of legislative draftsmanship by telephone – and we know he doesn’t use e-mail.

Obama, aided in no small measure by the national media, will place tremendous pressure on McCain to take part in Friday's debate. Perhaps Team Obama sees a tactical advantage in taking on a tired, unfocused adversary.

From McCain’s standpoint, there will be a debate, Oxford or not. It’ll take place on the floor of the United States Senate, and will focus on probably the most significant legislation to come before Congress in a generation. It’s there, he hopes, America will see the difference between a rookie “talker” and an experienced “doer.”

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
September 4th, 2008
02:34 PM ET

Sanchez: Palin is a VP for the rest of us

Editors note: Republican Leslie Sanchez was director of the Bush White House Initiative on Hispanic Education from 2001 to 2003 and is the author of "Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other." She is not a paid consultant to any current candidate. Sanchez is CEO of the Impacto Group, which specializes in market research about women and Hispanics for its corporate and nonprofit clients.

Leslie Sanchez
AC360° Contributor |
Republican Strategist

In 1993, Kevin Kline starred in a movie called "Dave," playing a look-alike who winds up impersonating the president. In the movie, the real president has a stroke and is kept on life support in a restricted area of the White House by a power-mad chief of staff, played by Frank Langella. Dave fills in.

He brings in his accountant, and over bratwurst, they find $600 million to build homeless shelters for kids. At a Cabinet meeting, he gets the commerce secretary to kill an expensive program to make Americans feel good about the cars they've already bought. He becomes a better, more beloved president than the real one.

Dave's tagline was, "In a country where anybody can become president, anybody just did."


Filed under: Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
September 2nd, 2008
04:03 PM ET

Obama's high-tech edge is changing politics

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Leslie Sanchez
AC360° Contributor | Bio
Republican Strategist

In 1840, a young Whig organizer named Abraham Lincoln wrote the guidebook on political field work. His "confidential" circular advised Whig campaign operatives to "make a perfect list of all the voters and ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote."

Almost 170 years later, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign is demonstrating the wisdom of Lincoln's counsel.

Computers have long since replaced the 3 by 5 cards that for generations were the stock-in-trade of precinct captains in both political parties - green cards for voters who supported your candidate, red ones for those opposed and white cards for the undecided. Every campaign needed to persuade the white cards, get out the green cards on Election Day, and keep a close watch on turnout by the red cards.

Marrying creative marketing techniques with state-of-the-art technology, Obama has taken the voter identification process to lengths nobody could have anticipated just four years ago.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
August 28th, 2008
12:06 PM ET

Wasn't ready then, isn't ready now

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Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

Once again, the Democrats shoot themselves in the foot. In a half-baked effort to establish “unity” within their own ranks, they haul out Bill and Hillary Clinton – probably the only two people in politics who can, by their mere presence, unite Republicans.

Bill Clinton gave a slick speech tonight. His wife couldn’t bring herself to say that Barack Obama is ready to be President, so Bill overcompensated: he said “ready” so much, you’d think he was trying to convince himself.

But with Bill Clinton, the question always is, “is he lying now, or was he lying before?” All through the Primaries, Bill went around the country telling everybody who’d listen that Obama is ill-prepared for the White House. Which is it then?

I especially liked the point in the speech when Clinton recalled how, in his 1992 run, his opponents charged that he was too inexperienced for the nation’s highest office.

They were right. Bill’s first two years in office were such a disaster – careening from crisis to crisis – that by 1994, Americans were so disgusted that they elected Republicans to a majority in both Houses of Congress for the first time in more than 4O years.

Bill Clinton wasn’t ready then, and Barack Obama is not ready now. America can’t go through another two years like we sustained while Bill Clinton was riding around with training wheels.

August 25th, 2008
11:59 AM ET

Reaction to Obama's VP choice

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Editor's Note: CNN.com contributors explored what Sen. Jospeh Biden's selection as the Democratic vice presidential nominee means for the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. We share with you two viewpoints. Go to 'Reaction to Obama's VP choice'  to read their full commentary.

Leslie Sanchez | Bio
CNN Political Contributor
Republican Strategist

Folks who were hoping Barack Obama's choice of a running mate would spice up the presidential contest are probably disappointed. Instead of change, they got the archetypal Washington insider: Delaware Sen. Joe Bien.

Biden, who entered the Senate when he was 30-years-old, is a lock-step liberal and, despite the early rhetoric, a skilled partisan infighter. His 36-year legislative record is obviously meatier than Obama's, but still thin...

Roland S. Martin | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Political Analyst

When the Democratic presidential candidates squared off in all those debates last year, I always felt that Sen. Joe Biden was the strongest.

He was consistently clear, though, decisive and unwilling to say what we wanted to hear, but willing to say what we needed to hear. A lot of strategists are talking about Biden's foreign policy experience, his ability to connect with white working-class voters, and his 36 years in the U.S. Senate. But for me, it's about style, in addition to substance...

Filed under: Barack Obama • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics • Roland S. Martin
August 13th, 2008
08:45 PM ET

Commentary: Russian crisis a McCain opportunity, Obama risk

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/07/art.split.candidates.jpg]Leslie Sanchez
AC360° Contributor
GOP Strategist

Despite the best work of political handlers and advertising pros in presidential elections, people's perceptions are often shaped by impressions formed by events that are completely out of the campaigns' control.

Such was the case just before midnight on August 20, 1968, when Soviet troops marched through Prague, putting a sudden and brutal end to the Czechoslovakian communist reform movement that was known, all too briefly, as the "Prague Spring." Seventy-eight days later, Americans gave Richard Nixon an Electoral College margin of 110 votes.

Forty years later, Russian tanks are rolling once more over their neighbors, and the images that are shaping Americans' lasting perceptions are of a president playing in the sand with the women's beach volleyball team and the presumptive Democratic nominee alternately walking along Kailua Beach and playing golf in Hawaii.

Read more

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
July 31st, 2008
08:30 AM ET

In this poker game, McCain should hold

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/18/art.mccainobama.jpg]Leslie Sanchez
AC360° Contributor
GOP Strategist

If conventional wisdom is correct and Barack Obama's vice presidential selection is days away, should John McCain pounce with his own Veep announcement? I say no.

For McCain, this game is more like Poker than Quick Draw. He’s got one singular advantage when it comes to the Veepstakes, which is that he can afford to wait and see Obama’s hold card. Once he sees which of two or three strategies Obama has decided to play, he can then decide which of his own cards to play.

Will the Democrats make a choice based on region, or gender? Will Obama play to “new politics”? Either way, expect McCain's choice to counterbalance Obama’s.

While Obama has been playing his cards close to his vest, one thing remains clear: unlike McCain, he has every reason to announce his choice sooner rather than later. FULL POST

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
July 14th, 2008
11:46 AM ET

Obama got it wrong on languages

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/14/art.obama.lulac.jpg caption="Sen. Barack Obama addresses the national convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the Washington Hilton July 8."]
Leslie Sanchez
GOP Strategist and AC360° Contributor

Speaking last week in Powder Springs, Ga., Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said, “Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English, because they will learn English, you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.”

Now we know what he means when he talks about the need for “change.” What he means is that it's the country that needs to change, not Washington, D.C.

The remark was itself part of a larger outreach effort by Obama to appeal for the support of Hispanic voters in the upcoming election. As part of his effort to address the conflict over illegal immigration, the brunt of which has been felt by Hispanics, he phrased his statement in such a way as to suggest he was simply calling on parents to be certain their school-age children learned a second language. But, as someone who was born in the United States and who speaks both English and – to a lesser degree – Spanish, I am disturbed by the comments.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, the nation's second-largest school district, 92 languages officially are spoken at students' homes. Why go in front of LULAC and single out Spanish unless you are pandering to special interests? Or worse, as some in the blogosphere suggest, perhaps Obama is implying that Hispanics, both immigrant and nonimmigrant, cannot learn English so the rest of us should learn Spanish in order to communicate.

Keep reading

Filed under: Barack Obama • Leslie Sanchez • Raw Politics
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