Policy and a Pint®: Behind the Spin


Policy and a Pint
Policy and a Pint, Behind the Spin at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul, Minn. (Pahoua Yang Hoffman / Citizens League)
Policy and a Pint - Behind the Spin
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Do you ever wonder why politicians running for office do exactly what they do, say exactly what they say? Steve Seel hosted a Policy and a Pint conversation in September with a couple of actual, real-live political spin-doctors and our audience at the the Amsterdam Bar and Hall to get to the bottom of the spin inherent in political messaging.

Listen to the hourlong conversation above, or download the MP3. Find choice quotes and videos referenced in the discussion below.


"Now, with outside groups, post McCain-Feingold, it's a consultant's dream to run one of these organizations, because you don't have to deal with the candidates themselves or the candidates' better halves. You get to sit in a dark room, nobody knows who you are, and you get to spend money trying to influence elections."

  —Cullen Sheehan, GOP strategist

"Nobody knows who they are, or they don't know where the money comes from. You know, there are some people who will make huge contributions -- like the Koch brothers - who will stand behind their money and admit to it. But I think there is a lot of people that don't want people to know they are making these contributions, and if they had to - which I think we should require disclosure - I think that would change the dynamics and the nature of this business."

  —Mike Erlandson, DFL strategist


"Message development is based on a set of core values that often lines up with the political party and some core set of beliefs there, and then it's a very strategic polling and research groups and a variety of other things that come into play. Very little of it is 'gut' when it comes to an election that ultimately can be won in the margins, as our statewide races usually are."

  —Mike Erlandson, DFL strategist


"I think the Independence Party's issue has been — it doesn't matter if there's 2 parties or 3 parties or 8 parties — it's creating a base of support that's consistent, and that hasn't been the case. I think you get candidates, and some people automatically say 'I'm an independent' or 'I hate both sides so I'm going to vote for them' but as you've seen over the years that group of people is 5 %, 6% or sometimes as much as 18%, and if you get a guy like Jesse (Ventura) it's enough to win an election. But it's really, really hard."

  —Cullen Sheehan, GOP strategist


"It's the running joke in every campaign - you need lawn signs because your supporters think all hope is lost if they don't see any. But I've yet to see any evidence that the candidate with more lawn signs wins the election. It does dramatically impact the candidate's mood, though."

  —Cullen Sheehan, GOP strategist


"You still have to be a good candidate. We've seen plenty of people spend a lot of money, very wealthy candidates. Ultimately, you still have to have a message that grabs onto people, that targets the right people. You can't just "buy an election," for lack of a better way to put it."

  —Mike Erlandson, DFL strategist

Videos referenced in the discussion

Ronald Reagan - Bear in the woods: Ronald Reagan TV Ad: "The Bear"

Mills Rich Guy MN-08: Stewart Mills - "Personally Offensive."

McFadden and football "Coach"

"Looking for Rudy" - Paul Wellstone for U.S. Senate (MN)
Ventura Action Figure: North Woods Advertising - "Action Figure" - Jesse Ventura for Governor (MN)

Policy and a Pint™ is a co-presentation with Citizens League, and is made possible by Target Corporation.