A Presidential Race on Speed

March 18, 2007 · 11:58 PM EDT

The following are excerpts from an op-ed piece in the Sunday, March 18, 2007 in the Los Angeles Times.

At this point in past presidential cycles, much of the campaign activity would be going on behind the scenes. Operatives would be focused on raising money, putting together state organizations in Iowa and New Hampshire and generally building a national campaign. But media coverage is already suffocating, with cable television networks covering the race as if it’s entering the stretch run and bloggers instantly commenting on the daily utterings of the candidates.

And here’s a bit more:

Campaign operatives say all the media attention pushed some candidates to enter the race earlier than planned — nobody expected Clinton to announce her candidacy in January — and to pack their schedules with events and appearances at the get-go. They know that if their candidate isn’t on the campaign trail, reporters will cover those who are.

Bigger events and more appearances mean more pressure and greater potential for controversy, which could easily lead to burnout for candidates and operatives alike.

“When you are selling yourself as a rock-star candidate, the concerts better be damn good,” said Steve Murphy, who is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s media consultant and who has been active in Democratic presidential politics since 1976, including a stint as Dick Gephardt’s campaign manager in 2004.

Most of the media coverage, of course, isn’t about issues, the candidates’ voting records or their effectiveness in office. It is either about the candidates’ personal lives or what insiders call “process” — the campaigns’ strategies and tactics.

You can read the whole column here.