From a press strategy standpoint, I’m very surprised that Barack Obama failed to announce his running mate today. An announcement today would have allowed for a midday event tomorrow and then allowed two full days of build up until the Democratic National Convention.
A Friday announcement of what should be positive news is, if not a worst case scenario, in terms of press strategy almost the worst. This timing means the public will learn of Obama’s running mate as they are leaving work early on Friday or driving to some summer vacation spot. It will not command the full attention of voters. Friday night television — especially during the summer — receives the lowest ratings with the exception, of course, of the Olympics. (But the people watching that care about the Olympics not running mates.)
The press has reported that Obama and his running mate will campaign together on Saturday. Again, it’s a terrible day to roll out what should be a positive announcement. You don’t even have the regular array of t.v. news programs on a Saturday and the evening news is little watched.
Given that David Axelrod and Obama are typically superb at the mechanics of campaigning — his events look fabulous, his set-piece speeches generate positive reviews and news coverage, the team almost never leaks — something else must be happening. It’s possible that the Obama team felt boxed with the Olympic coverage and opted to walk into the convention in Denver. Another scenario is that there are actually issues that still need to be worked through, i.e. he’s picking Hillary Clinton and waiting until the last possible minute to drop the bomb, he isn’t picking Clinton and he wants to minimize blowback, a vetting question has arisen regarding his favored v.p. candidate. It must be something because the Obama campaign is too smart to miss an opportunity for positive press.