The man of the hour is Newt Gingrich. He’s getting attention and South Carolina has a reputation of picking THE Republican nominee. Seems a bit surprising until you notice Frank Luntz seems to be his BFF lately. For those not familiar, Frank Luntz is the Republican wordsmith/ focus group guru that helps them pick just the right words to say and the frames they work in – Words that Work (his book). I promised earlier that I would analyze a portion of the CafeMom focus group that Newt and Frank participated in; this is a good time. My suspicion is that Luntz has been retained for the duration of the campaign and was hired once Newt realized he had a big problem with his image among women. Social conservatives don’t take kindly to serial marriage – or divorce. They also don’t like hearing about an open marriage, his alleged multiple mistresses, or the story about hassling his soon-to-be ex-wife on her “death bed” (for the record, she was recovering from a tumor removal surgery – also for the record he admits to one affair). It almost doesn’t even matter, the nuances of truth or rumor in these tales, because the picture – or frame – has already been painted. You can’t un-hear something, un-see it, or un-imagine it. Once a frame has been locked in, it is very hard to shake. This is why the wordsmith has likely been called in. Luntz is working hard to get Newt to seem more likeable to women – to an insulting degree in my opinion. Newt is fast on his feet anyway, but Frank can point out his weak areas and teach him to relate a bit better, and answer the tough questions by resetting the frame of the conversation.These tactics are working.
CafeMom sponsored an event where the guest of honor was Newt Gingrich and the facilitator was Frank Luntz. I can’t quite figure out what the reason for the event was other than Newt wanting to speak to moms and this seemed to be a good forum. The set up is already suspicious on my radar – were moms clamoring to really connect to Newt? Like a practiced volleyball game Frank Luntz sets up Newt over and over and Newt spikes the ball; Newt painstakingly ingratiates himself. Not only does he pander to the audience, but the crying babies and crying candidate (yes, Newt cries) tap into our audio consciousness and push those motherly empathetic buttons all over the place. For the folks in the audience it was probably even more sensory overload, baby smells, pinchable baby cheeks peppered throughout the audience, coffee talk, and mom as the unsung hero – but wait, I thought Newt was a hard nosed authoritarian? Continue reading