I’m minding my own business when I daydream about the Obamans’ reaction and conference call to the flubbed kiss last night:
MESSINA: Hi everyone. I am going to unmute this in a second but I’ve called this all hands because we have two quarters, or 45 minutes with halftime, to fix these optics. The president fumbled a kiss cam tonight during a women’s basketball game in Washington DC. He got booed, and there were cameras. It’s all over Twitter now and we’re starting to get press calls.
Listen, Teddy [Goff] and your team, you guys use the Plouffe matrix and flood the Verizon Center switchboard. Demand a second take with the kiss cam. Someone get the daughter next to the family. Move Biden off camera if you can. Interns, paid staff, whatever – drive to that Center and get word to Reggie Love to get this thing done. And done right. When you’re on the horn with the Verizon Center people, offer equal time for the Romneys if you need. Axelrod, I want to huddle with you privately. Stef [Stephanie Cutter] I want you and your team to script an ad – Romney as bad kisser. Use the same VO [voice over] we did for the Firms ad.
David? Hit pound-7.
AXELROD: This was a Bill Buckner moment. This is the first and maybe worst air ball from our boss. So we need to fix it. It’s the only way to avoid a drubbing. And spin this so that the boss isn’t a prude or worse, weak.
CALLER: This is (unintelligible) from Colorado. What should the stateside and regional teams be doing?
MESSINA: Our HQ research and data teams here are sending you binders of kissing history. Distribute to all of your press contacts. The 2000 Al Gore porn kiss with Tipper, Monica Lewinsky, shoot, Axe, what about the Reagan diaries?
AXELROD: Yes. They are gold. Haiku love letters. Think we should also mention Woodrow Wilson letters? When his first wife died? He almost resigned the presidency.
UNINTELLIGBLE: Who’s Woodrow Wilson?
MULTIPLE UNINTELLIGBLE: No. Wilson. [35 seconds of shouting]
MESSINA: OK OK. Everyone is on mute. No Wilson. Reagan. Start at Reagan and work your way up to 44. No Barbara Bush references. I’ll unmute again. No Wilson.
CALLER: Hey, I’m at the DNC. What’s the strategy for donors here?
AXELROD: Jim, I got this. How fast can you register a domain around kissing, kissing fund, kissing PAC, kissing forward? Gold, silver, platinum. Ask for maximum donations. That way, we don’t conflict with Bill [Burton] or Sean [Sweeney] SUPERPAC strategy. But so what if it does.
CALLER: We’ll have it live by Wednesday and work with comms to develop email targeting. Signing off in DC.
MESSINA: Great. Next?
CALLLER: Hey, we’re with Michelle’s desk. Do you need us?
MESSINA: Thanks for calling in. We’re good, just inform the White House we’re going to get them to kiss on the big screen. This isn’t something that Valerie [Jarrett] needs to OK. And if she says otherwise, she can call me at home. Next call is from Chicago.
CALLER: Thanks guys. To clarify, what’s this mean for the campaign going forward?
MESSINA: Axe, you want this?
AXELROD: Good question. Thanks for asking and being comfortable asking something so simple but so fundamental to our success. This is a bit of a turning point for us. It ends the Romney-Bain bash party we’ve teed up and enjoyed. It halts the Romney VP nonsense. Unforced errors are rare for us, so this is valuable practice. But this kiss-gate crap will consume too much oxygen when we need to define Romney. It is a setback because likeability is one of our best assets. A skinny black guy with a foreign name, who the other guys want to destroy as un-American, needs to swish moments like this. So we’re going to get him another kiss cam moment, because the commander in chief needs to be husband in chief.
Campaigns are fluid things, where make believe can be reality and reality can be make believe. Jim?
MESSINA: Thanks. Everything is fungible. Now let’s put this drama to bed in a crib we’re going to build ourselves with sweat, teamwork and enthusiasm. Forward.