View Full Version : Peter Schiff reflects on campaign: You have to dumb down your message to win.

08-27-2010, 12:28 PM

Investor Peter Schiff of Weston said that after seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate he is frustrated that candidates can only get elected if they “dumb down” their message and “not tell the truth” about the solutions to issues.

“Parts of it were enjoyable,” he said of his campaign, which resulted in a third-place finish in a three-way race in which he collected 23 percent of the vote in the GOP primary this summer.

Greenwich businesswoman Linda McMahon, the former chief operating officer of WWE, who spent about $22 million through the primary, an unprecedented sum in a Connecticut political race, took 49 percent of the vote and former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington placed second with 28 percent of the ballots.

“But it was frustrating too, because the games you have to play,” Mr. Schiff said regarding his bid for the Republican nomination.

“I might have had more influence if I had spent that $800,000 or so on promoting my book,” Mr. Schiff said regarding “How An Economy Grows And Why It Crashes,” which he wrote with his brother, Andrew Schiff, who is the marketing director at Mr. Schiff’s investment firm, Euro Pacific.

He said he spent at least $800,000 of his own money out of an overall campaign budget of about $3.5 million.

“I would have been on television more if I had been out promoting the book,” said Mr. Schiff, who has appeared regularly on cable news networks in recent years and has been credited with predicting the economic downturn that reportedly began in late 2007.

“But I don’t know if I would have been able to influence Linda McMahon to do anything differently,” he said about comparing running for the U.S. Senate versus promoting his latest book. “I don’t know if I would have influenced more people.”

His 2009 book, “Crash Proof 2.0,” appeared on both The Wall Street Journal’s and New York Times’ best-selling lists.

“Most people who run for office do it for their selfish reasons,” Mr. Schiff said. “I’m not against following self-interests.”

“But there is no real principle to it,” said Mr. Schiff, who has about 40 employees at his investment firm in Westport. “The people running for office do what their political advisers tell them to say and avoid other topics.”

“I didn’t do that,” Mr. Schiff said. “I edited all of my speeches.”

“I’m very frank, but that doesn’t necessarily get you the number of votes that you need,” said the former candidate, who has, among other things, called for major reform of major entitlements, including a means test for receiving Social Security benefits.

“I can get 1 or 2 percent of the people and be successful with my investment business or with my books, “Mr. Schiff said.

“But you need a much larger percentage in an election,” he said. “You have to dumb your message down,”

“In business, I don’t care about the people who don’t understand my message,” Mr. Schiff said. “If they don’t want to come along, I know that there are enough people who will. That’s not the case in politics.”

“What is of concern is that nobody can get elected by telling the truth,” he said. “The solutions they offer to appease the public are the solutions that make the problems worse.”

“I was candid, and that is why I got the support that I got,” Mr. Schiff said. “But can you win with the strategy?”

“If I had gotten closer to Linda McMahon in the polls, she probably would have spent another $10 million on television and bought every advertising space that was available,” he said.

Mrs. McMahon will face state Attorney Gen. Richard Blumenthal of Greenwich, the Democratic nominee, in the Nov. 2 election.

Even some delegates to the Republican state convention have said privately that, based on her public comments, Mrs. McMahon, who has never run for office before, lacks knowledge on some of the issues.

“When I first met her, I asked if she had read my book, and she said that she didn’t understand economics,” Mr. Schiff said.

“It is obvious from her career in wrestling that she understands promotion,” he said regarding the media empire that WWE, which is based in Stamford and was started by Mrs. McMahon’s husband, Vince McMahon, has become over the last 30 years.

“I’ve heard her give many stump speeches,” Mr. Schiff said. “By and large, I agree with what she has to say. I would vote for her.”

“But a lot of Republicans say those things,” he said regarding Mrs. McMahon’s call for lower spending and taxes. “The question becomes as to what is she going to do with that Senate seat?”

“Republicans fouled up when they were in charge,” Mr. Schiff said. “They sometimes are better when they’re in the minority, or certainly when it isn’t a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress.”

He said that, as has been the case with Mrs. McMahon, he hasn’t voted in some recent elections.

“I couldn’t vote for the lesser of two evils,” he said, indicating that he didn’t’ cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election because he wasn’t pleased with either President Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, or U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican candidate.

Mr. Schiff, who was an economic adviser to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) during his 2008 presidential campaign, received significant support during the campaign from members of the Tea Party.

He said some reporters have inaccurately portrayed those activists.

“The Tea Party people are not redneck kooks or racists,” Mr. Schiff said. “They’re all good people.”

He said he met “some pretty good candidates” during his campaign travels.

In particular, he cited Martha Dean of Avon, who is the Republican candidate for attorney general, and businessman Mark Greenberg of Litchfield, who placed third in a three-way GOP primary in the Fifth Congressional District.

Mr. Schiff said he is considering a run in 2012 for the Republican nomination in the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by independent Joe Lieberman of Stamford, who was initially elected to the seat in 1988.

“If they don’t chase me out of the state with higher taxes, I would consider running in 2012, but it is going to be based on how much support I have in the Republican Party,” he said.

“I don’t want to have to run against the Republican Party and petition my way onto the ballot again,” Mr. Schiff said, making reference to his inability in May to annex at least the 15 percent of the delegates needed to automatically qualify for the primary.

He said he doesn’t believe the American economy will recover in the near future.

“We’re in a depression that has been interrupted by the stimulus, which is wearing off,” Mr. Schiff said, making reference to the $787 billion package that Mr. Obama signed in February of last year.

“People are going to lose jobs in the service sector,” he said. “Americans are saving more money, which is good. But it is not good for retail. You’re going to see empty office space.”

He said the unemployment figures will probably worsen.

“I think that you’re going to see people collecting unemployment for four or five years. It’s going to become an entitlement,” Mr. Schiff.

He said that the lack of interest in American products will probably enable China to become the world economic leader.

“You have the risk of China surpassing the United States in the next decade, now that it has just surpassed Japan as the second largest economy in the world,” he said.

“China is now the biggest consumer of energy in the world, and it has the largest auto market,” Mr. Schiff said.

08-27-2010, 12:41 PM
Good article.

08-27-2010, 02:40 PM
Very good read. A lot of sad truth too.

08-27-2010, 02:44 PM
"When I first met her, I asked if she had read my book, and she said that she didn’t understand economics"


08-27-2010, 02:46 PM
For a smart guy....it certainly took him a long time to figure this out.

08-27-2010, 02:50 PM
Awesome article.

Schiff 2012.

08-28-2010, 09:08 AM
http://www.housatonictimes.com/articles/2010/08/27/news/political/doc4c77f9c281640147870936.txt "In particular, he cited Martha Dean of Avon, who is the Republican candidate for attorney general"

Martha Dean could sure use your help. Find out more at http://www.marthadeanforattorneygeneral.com. She is one of the only grassroots supported candidates in Connecticut to garner the Republican endorsement at the convention and the nomination on Primary day. The seat is open and 51 years of one-party rule is long enough.

08-28-2010, 09:50 AM
was his timing off by two or four years??? he needs to keep on message
for i think we will still have a big HUGE debt indeedy for quite a long while...

08-28-2010, 10:20 AM
Implying that anyone is "dumb" isn't going to help. It's about the media. The media does more than tell people how to vote, the media tells them how to arrive at that conclusion. The media says, "it takes a billion dollars to win an election, therefore candidate x is the best." The masses not only have been told who to vote for by the "experts", they have been given logic that they feel independently justifies it. It becomes their own logic.

As for "dumbing" down, that isn't really the issue. If the media tells them, "we need an expert; a smarter person with new ideas, therefore candidate z is the best," then the same logic applies. Voters may not understand anything a candidate says, but that will only reinforce the logic (placed in their heads by the media), that the candidate is smart, and the best choice. For example, the media have been doing this with Newt Gingrich for the past couple of years. "He's so brilliant". Then you hear Joe Schmoe voter repeat the exact same thing...someone who knows very little about politics or Newt Gingrich. :rolleyes:

08-28-2010, 10:25 AM
"When I first met her, I asked if she had read my book, and she said that she didnít understand economics"



08-28-2010, 12:47 PM
For a smart guy....it certainly took him a long time to figure this out.

No shit.

08-28-2010, 01:31 PM
For a smart guy....it certainly took him a long time to figure this out.

Which makes me wonder why he didn't 'dumb down' the message from day 1?

AJ Antimony
08-28-2010, 01:34 PM
I hope Peter recognizes the things his campaign did right...

He went from less than 15% at the convention, to being the first candidate ever to petition his way onto the ballot, to finishing with 23% of the vote.

Maybe if Simmons fully dropped out, he would have got 40ish%, making it a real contest with Linda.

I still believe that if Linda and he bottomless pocketbook never entered this race, Peter would have beat Simmons.