In this recent clip from NBC’s Meet the Press, note how Michele Bachmann answers every one of host David Gregory‘s questions with a talking point. In fact, even where Gregory does a good job of asking a follow-up question because Bachmann avoided his original question, Bachmann comes back a second time with the same talking point. That reflects a lot of discipline on Bachmann’s part. The question is whether Bachmann’s robotic answers will backfire on her.
It’s true that good messaging, framing, and political communication is crucial to political success. That’s what this blog is all about. However, it is also true that voters and the media want candidates to be human, and real. In this case, while Bachmann is obviously good at sticking to talking points, she may be too good at it. Voters and interviewers may well become frustrated with Bachmann’s answers (many of which, as evidenced here, do not directly answer the questions asked), and may penalize her for being too artificial, or perhaps too empty-headed to veer from her handlers’ script. For example, check out this video from CNN’s Don Lemon, which ridicules Bachmann for repeating the same phrases numerous times in separate interviews one recent morning. Likewise, those kinds of canned responses didn’t work too well for Sharron Angle in her 2010 U.S. Senate race against Harry Reid in Nevada.
As for whether these tactics will work better for Michele Bachmann, we’ll see.