Former Campaign Managers, Strategists on 2016 Election

Back in 2000, the primary between Senator John McCain and Former President George W. Bush in South Carolina was viewed as bitter.

Compare it to now.

“That was a love fest,” said Mark McKinnon.

McKinnon was Bush’s chief political adviser at the time.

Even with all of his experience, this election is something else.

“In my thirty years in politics, I have never seen anything close to this,” McKinnon said.

He sees it up close.

McKinnon created and stars in Showtime's “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.” He is all over the campaign trail, profiling candidates and the race.

“It is like there are no more rule books. There are no more guidelines. It is like everything is on the table and anything is fair game,” said McKinnon.

This week, McKinnon was in Texas, at an event at the George W. Bush Political Center.

Along with other strategists, advisers and a former campaign manager, they talked about the changes in advertising and life on the campaign trail.

“Voters have just become very sophisticated and that advertising is paid for, right, so they know what they are seeing on television that is a controlled message, as opposed to something that is authentic and real,” said McKinnon.

And there is the Trump factor, which has changed the election landscape.

“He says whatever he wants whenever he wants to, and he has been fact checked and people don't care. I mean, if you are for Donald Trump you assume that whatever media says about him. If you are a Trump supporter, you assume whatever the media says about him is a lie,” he added.

While Mark McKinnon is still in the game, others who appeared on the panel, are happy to be out.

NBC 5 Political Reporter Julie Fine asked David Plouffe, President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, if he would want to be a campaign manager now.

“Never again. I am happily retired and happy to watch all this from the sidelines,” said Plouffe. “Politics has changed a lot, too, just because technology has changed. In ‘08, our campaign as very much centered around a website and email. Now social media and data analytics are really driving the day.”

An example of how much has changed is Trump's campaign manager was arrested for simple battery, accused of pushing a reporter.

“Having been one, campaign managers are just supposed to basically stay in the background and manage the chaos, not create the chaos. Again here is an example that this is a completely different campaign than we have seen before,” Plouffe added.

And in the midst of the campaign, is a fractured Republican Party.

“Governor Romney is very interested in the race and has made it very clear that he does not want to see Donald Trump be the republican nominee. And I think it is just amazing when you think that the nominee of four years ago, the nominee from 2012, has said he will not vote for the nominee of 2016,” said Russ Schriefer, senior adviser and strategist for Mitt Romney.

As for Romney’s future?

“I take Mitt Romney at his word. He is not running. He has no intention of running, and I don't think the convention would turn to Mitt Romney,” said Schriefer.

Contact Us