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Joe Trippi: What Obama Should Do Next

Barack Obama is slumping. Poll numbers are down. Enthusiasm is down. Democrats, once again, are freaking. So, we asked a few folks, from different walks of life, to offer their opinion on what Obama should do to improve his standing. Here's what Joe Trippi, former top strategist for John Edwards and Howard Dean, had to say:

Forget Sarah Palin. ...  Don't react. Not directly. Let somebody else do that. If you're Barack Obama, you gotta focus on McCain. And I would not use anger. It would be a big mistake for him, whether it's righteous or not. ... His persona is perfect; he's fine.

I think they need to recognize that it will be very difficult to tie McCain to Bush. Sometimes it doesn't matter if somebody voted with him 90 percent of the time. People may not be willing to think of McCain that way. It's kind of like when Clinton kept saying, "I have 35 years experience, and he's only got change." It didn't really move anybody. Once the Clinton people finally realized that line of attack wasn't going to work, she started to win.

The McCain campaign seems to have figured out, by watching Clinton, that saying he has been in Washington for 26 years and has more experience isn't going to work. So, what did they do? They picked Palin specifically so he could move the focus and the decision point in the race. It's no longer experience versus change; it's reform and change versus change. Now it's up to the Obama people to adjust.

I caution everyone who's wringing their hands, because having faced Obama and his team, I remember plenty of times when they had to make an adjustment against John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. It wasn't like they went through the Democratic primaries without being thrown off balance every once and a while. But they would make the adjustment, get stronger, and beat us. They've just gotta reframe this, and I expect them to.

One last thing: the word ‘lipstick' ... stay away from that word for the rest of the campaign. Stay away from animals and stay away from lipstick. I think that's a good idea.

--As-told-to Amanda Silverman