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Quick shots: Kudos to campaign workers

  • Winning isn't only mark of a great campaign: It's how you waged the war, Mary Matalin says
  • Matalin: Graciousness, appreciation, being good sports make campaign great
  • Hilary Rosen: Americans to spend $5.5 billion on Halloween, average of $65 a family
  • Rosen: Half of that could fund candidates who aren't rich and level the playing field

Editor's note: There are six days to go before voters cast ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections. In this special feature, CNN's political contributors share their quick thoughts on what's making news.

Mary Matalin, a Republican strategist, joined CNN as a political contributor in April 2009. She has worked for Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush and served as counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Hilary Rosen is a Democratic political strategist and former chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Mary Matalin: A salute to the dedicated campaign workers

On the occasion of the official "countdown to election," a hearty congratulations to all you campaign workers out there. As you know, campaign work is a lifestyle, not a job. I have been on or around campaigns since 1976 -- yes, that makes this the 34th election countdown week -- holding just about every position from the lowest to the "decision table," and while much has changed, the core, heart and soul of campaigns will be ever thus.

To you young campaigners out there, in this last week of exhilaration and exhaustion, you may think winning or losing will mark your campaign. What marks your campaign souls is how you waged the war and how you crossed the finish line. Here are my favorite markings of a good campaign in the last week, no matter the outcome:

Good campaigns keep focused and fight until the polls close, do not spend the last week angling to get credit for a victory or place blame for defeat, never trash their candidate, their supervisors thank each of their charges personally and workers write each of their bosses notes of gratitude for their tutelage, and everyone thanks the candidate for getting in the arena and the spouses and families for their sacrifice. Volunteers get special recognition from the candidate and workers.

On Election Day, in between neurotically monitoring everything from weather reports to turnout at key precincts, good campaigns recall signature moments and people and have a few laughs. They might even include a journalist or two who traveled the distance with them. Good campaigners call their parents on Election Day. They lived every minute with you, even when you only managed to check in every eight weeks. Always, always, always be gracious and humble in victory or defeat.

There are no other comrades like foxhole buddies and no other experiences like a being on a good campaign. Don't restrict your unique experience by marking your campaign exclusively by its outcome. Thank you for what you do, always be proud of it. Campaigning is noble and necessary work. No matter what, you had a hand in shaping the history of your country.

Hilary Rosen: Think how much you spend just on Halloween

The Campaign for Responsive Politics estimates about $2 billion will be spent on elections in 2010. "There is too much money in politics" is a constant refrain.


But is it too much? Halloween is Sunday night, October 31. And by then, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans are set to spend more than $5.5 billion on Halloween this year. The average American family will spend $65 on Halloween.


It is worth asking ourselves whether the leadership of the country and the big problems of education, energy independence, taxes, health care, etc are worth a debate that costs the American people at least as much as their annual Halloween costumes and candy allocation. Imagine if we spent half of that to finance our democratic principles. Imagine how nice it would be to know that the issues people were fighting over were actually issues we cared about as voters.

Democrats have long been for public financing of campaigns and Republicans have been opposed. If Republicans are truly serious about bipartisanship in the next Congress, campaign financing is the perfect place to start. Equal the playing field.

Imagine a world where there are no arguments over secret funders who want a payback if they win, or over unions that use their members' money for something other than protecting their hard-earned benefits, or our elected officials spending too much of their time catering to wealthy donors instead of working hard to solve problems. Sounds pretty nice doesn't it? You can have it for lass than half of what you are spending for your Halloween costume this year.

The opinions in these commentaries are solely those of the writers.