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Message Control

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Last Thursday, for apparently the first time in the Monitor’s 42-year history of hosting newsmaker breakfasts, reporters assembled at the St. Regis Hotel without knowing who our speaker would be.

The reason tells you how tightly the Obama campaign controls its message.

I had been writing to senior Obama campaign officials for months, inviting them to speak at one of our breakfasts. Senator Obama was the guest at memorable Monitor lunch at the Democratic convention in Boston in August, 2004. The headline on my blog that day was “Catching a rising star.”

But despite repeated entreaties and the appearance of senior officials from the Clinton and McCain campaigns at Monitor-sponsored gatherings this year, top Obama strategists had remained illusive.

So I was delighted last Tuesday morning to find a message on my Blackberry saying Obama officials were willing to meet with us on Thursday. “It will be a couple of senior campaign officials, but we plan to make some news that day and if we put out who the officials are I think it will tip people off,” the Obama press office said.

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