Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dion needs a Santos moment

I don’t often agree with the Toronto Star’s James Travers, and generally find him to be out to lunch most of the time. He’s mostly dining-out in his latest column with his blinding focus on Ignatieff and Rae but he was right on one count: in Montreal the candidate speeches are going to be huge.

Put aside his focus on the two supposed frontrunners and his thesis is sound. This race is still fluid. Support is soft. Candidates that drop-out will be unable to deliver their delegates to another candidate as they have in the past, and even the frontrunners may be unable to hold onto some supporters after the first ballot.

More then any leadership convention in the past, and perhaps for the first time ever, the speeches will be huge. It won’t just be a pep rally for each candidate and their supporters. Everyone will be listening to and scrutinizing each speech very closely. This will be the last chance to woo delegates that are very ready to be wooed and are wondering where to park their support on future ballots, and that pool is bigger than it has ever been before.

I’m reminded of the West Wing episode where Democratic presidential candidate Matthew Santos is being pressured to drop-out of the race in favour of empty-hat Bingo-Bob Russell. Santos is supposed to deliver a concession speech to the convention. Instead he delivers a rousing call to arms and democratic ideals delivers him the nomination.

For my guy Stephane Dion, I think the speeches are doubly important. He’s the long-shot with a real shot. Only one of Dion and Gerard Kennedy can emerge as the alternative to Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, and they need to do it quickly in the balloting if they’re going to pass Rae and take on Ignatieff down the stretch. There’s a lot of people that are strongly against either Rae or Iggy, or that are soft in their support. Those people can be moved.

A killer speech could move them, and the stakes are huge. Flop and it’s over, kill and the payoff is huge. I hope the speechwriters are busy, because it could all come down to one speech. A speech of substance, of vision of honesty and emotion. I'm sure you know who I think is best able to deliver on that score. :)

May the best speech win. Should be fun.

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UWHabs said...

Yeah, a lot will come down to the speeches, and the last minute decisions. It's definitely still too close to call. I wouldn't be surprised at all if when the 4th place person is dropped from the ballot, it may not be more than a half-dozen votes.

petroom said...

I don't like the idea of speeches making or breaking. Substance and the slow realization of the pros/cons of a candidate are what matters.

What type of person goes to a Liberal convention?