Michael R. Caputo, of East Aurora, a nationally known political consultant who has worked for Republican candidates including presidential nominee Donald Trump, is providing a Republican perspective on the Democratic National Convention in response to questions from Buffalo News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy. Last week, The News asked Democratic consultant Joe Slade White to offer his perspective on the Republican National Convention.
Will the progressive planks of the Democratic platform demanded by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders be embraced by Hillary Clinton if she is elected president?
The party platforms emerging from conventions every four years are exercises in symbolism. That’s more true for Republicans, but it’s Democrats, too. We let more passionate players develop the platforms, so, invariably, they end up more far left or far right than the mainstream. So, mostly, we ignore them. Hillary will follow her own agenda, and where the platform fits, she’ll wear it. That’s how this works.
Will Sanders remain a force in the Democratic Party, or has his time now passed?
Sanders’ role in the Democratic Party has just begun. I’ve worked with him on veterans issues and appreciate his devotion to our nation’s warriors. I disagree with the rest of his agenda, but he’s a good and decent man, motivated by policy and people. Both political parties need more good and decent leaders, and I think the Democrats will embrace Sanders. By the way: They’d better, or they’ll be torn apart.
How important are modern conventions in crafting a message for presidential candidates?
When I was hired as Donald Trump’s convention communications director, I recalled a few friends opining that political party presidential nominating conventions are a thing of the past. But this year, both party conventions are incredibly important. Both parties entered divided and needed the unity that normally grows from a convention. Both parties’ candidates wear high negative ratings, and the national focus of a convention helps recast the top of the ticket. In 2016, at least, conventions were absolutely necessary. And 2020 – who knows?
Who delivered the best convention speech Monday? Why?
I think Michelle Obama delivered the best speech, by far. The writing was tremendous, her perspective was powerful, her rhetoric was soaring, and her delivery was expert. I agree with very little of what she said, but that didn’t stop me from appreciating her remarkable performance. I expected more from Cory Booker, the Democrats’ Jack Kemp, but disruptive delegates really stole his moment. Elizabeth Warren lost me at “hello.” And Bernie – he gave his stump speech, and I hoped for more from him.
Besides Hillary Clinton herself, what speech do you most anticipate?
From a technical standpoint, I’m interested to see how the DNC will roll out Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, who was killed when he attacked a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. The Democrats are walking a dangerous line, lying supine for the Black Lives Matter movement as law enforcement officers are gunned down across the country.