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Campaign-speak: What they say, and what they mean

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Rick Horowitz
February 8, 2008

So many ever-changing numbers! So many complicated rules! And so, so many Super Tuesday words! You wanted a national primary, and that’s exactly what you got—two-dozen states voting on a single February day, and a data “stream” the size of Niagara Falls.


What’s a poor citizen to do?


Beats me.


Just a little post-primary humor there, folks. Here at Rick’s Ready Review of Rip-Roaring Rhetoric, we’re definitely happy to help.


We’ll leave the numbers to the number crunchers. We’ll leave the rules to the lawyers. Here at Rick’s, we’re all about the words. Candidate words. When Senator X or Governor Y takes the microphone on election night or the morning after to stir up the crowd or spar with reporters, it’s not always clear exactly what’s being said—and it’s not because of the noise.


It’s because, when Senator X or Governor Y starts to speak on election night or the morning after, you’re being spun to within an inch of your life.


It’s “National Making Lemonade Out of Lemons Week,” and you haven’t even bought a card!


Not to worry. Here at Rick’s, we think you deserve to know what they’re really saying. For instance:


--When the candidate says: “I want to congratulate my opponent on his excellent showing tonight.”


The candidate is really saying: “My people told me we had this one in the bag!”


--And when the candidate says: “I give them credit for a running a really spirited campaign.”


The candidate is really saying: “You want to play rough? I’ll show you rough!”


--When the candidate says: “My friends…”


The candidate is really saying: “You doubters…”


When the candidate says: “This is a long campaign.”


The candidate is really saying: “Where does it say there are only 50 states?”


--When the candidate says: “We’re going on.”


The candidate is really saying: “We’re going home.”


--When the candidate says: “I can get all of her voters, but it’s not clear she can get all of mine.”


The candidate is really saying: “If my supporters sit it out, you are so screwed.”


--When the candidate says: “My opponent is the establishment candidate.”


The candidate is really saying: “I’d have killed for Ted Kennedy’s endorsement!”


--When the candidate says: “I can unify the country.”


The candidate is really saying: “There’s a reason there are Hillary voodoo dolls!”


--When the candidate says: “I prefer being the underdog.”


The candidate is really saying: “What happened to our $100 million?”


--When the candidate says: “I’ve been thoroughly vetted.”


The candidate is really saying: “Why aren’t you digging around in his past?

--When the candidate says: “I loaned my campaign $5 million.”


The candidate is really saying: “We’re broke.”


--When the candidate says: “This shows my commitment to this campaign.”


The candidate is really saying: “We’re broke, and our contributors are maxed out.”


--When the candidate says: “At the end of the day, our names are the ones on the ballot.”

The candidate is really saying: “”Pay no attention to that ex-president behind the curtain.”


--And when the candidate says: “It comes down to a choice between two people.”


The candidate is really saying: “Bill’s back on his leash.”


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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