Clinton's campaign was ready to attack Donald Trump's announcement of a VP pick
The Trump campaign's response was not nearly as nimble
Hillary Clinton might have been more prepared for Donald Trump’s vice presidential rollout than Donald Trump.
In the crucial moments after Trump announced he had chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate with a tweet on Friday, Clinton’s campaign sprang into action, while Trump’s team missed several opportunities to capitalize on its own news and be the first to frame the narrative around the new partnership.
Within 15 minutes of Trump’s initial tweet, Clinton responded with a video outlining a point-by-point case against Pence.
A minute later, her campaign posted the same video, but with Spanish subtitles. By 11:15 am ET, the campaign was out with a one-page graphic showcasing Pence’s views on hot-button issues such as abortion, taxes, immigration and gay rights.
Like the video, this was also translated into Spanish.
Just after noon, Clinton’s campaign blasted a series of mass-texts to supporters announcing Trump’s decision with a fundraising request that let donors give as little as a dollar with a tap on their phone.
Meanwhile, her research team dumped anti-Pence research on its website and through the campaign’s “The Briefing” account. By 1:30 p.m., Clinton’s allies representing Congress, labor, Latino voters and the pro-abortion rights and gay rights movements held a joint press call to make the case against Pence.
And the campaign still wasn’t done by Saturday morning, as a new web video entitled “Indecisive Donald” hit Trump for his decision-making.
The two starkly different strategies are indicative of the culture within the rival campaigns. While Clinton is running a more traditional operation, complete with carefully vetted and controlled messaging and a large staff, Trump’s approach is far more personality driven and unpredictable. For many, his shoot-from-the-hip strategy is a major part of his appeal, but his campaign’s failure to capitalize on significant moments of the campaign such as this could reduce his ability to raise money or reach voters as effectively as past campaigns for the White House.
Despite it being their own announcement, Trump’s team does not appear nearly as prepared. Using Trump’s tweet as the starting gun, much of Clinton’s content was made public before Trump sent out a single fundraising pitch or even put the news of the announcement prominently on his website.
Even two hours after the initial tweet, the only mention of Pence on Trump’s website was a reference to his tweet, low on the page. Pence’s personal website didn’t mention the partnership at the time either, nor did it redirect to the presidential campaign. The Trump campaign did, however, buy Google ads directing people searching for Trump to a donation page.
An hour after Clinton’s video went live, Trump’s YouTube page posted its first video about the new duo. The first fundraising email – which included a new logo featuring a “T” penetrating a “P” – went out to supporters by noon. A press release went out to reporters announcing that the first joint event with Trump and Pence wouldn’t be for another 24 hours. Trump has cited the terror attacks in Nice, France, for delaying the official event until Saturday.
In presidential politics, the running mate announcement is traditionally a prime opportunity for campaigns to secure an almost sure media and fundraising bump. Past campaigns typically roll out the announcement with a cross-platform thunderclap strategy: A physical appearance with the candidates together, a precisely timed social media strategy, fact books to tout the successes of the veep choice, an immediate appeal for donations and a new website.
But those elements didn’t come together for Trump on Friday, whose professional messaging strategy still continues to follow an uncertain and uncoordinated path.
Trump will have his chance to respond to soon, however, as Clinton is leaning toward announcing her running mate immediately after the Republican convention ends on July 21. But aides say she is leaving open the possibility of waiting until Democrats are already gathering for their convention in Philadelphia the following week to disclose her selection, hoping to stoke drama and build interest in the Democratic ticket.
CNN’s Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.