Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo certainly has her PR team active. Within the space of a week, she’s had positive profiles in the major newspapers of the most-major nearby cities. What’s interesting, though, is how targeted the messaging is.
The New York Times column by Frank Bruni is headlined: “The Loneliness of the Moderate Democrat.”
She can’t tweet worth a damn and the same goes for Instagram. She winces at talk of a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent and cringes at the growing use of “corporatist” as a slur against Democratic politicians deemed too cozy with business interests. She thinks that big companies often need to be prodded forcefully to do right by their employees, but that it’s bad policy and bad politics to paint them as the enemy.
She recalled an exchange with college students not long ago. One of them said: “I get who you are. You’re one of those spineless centrists.”
“And I was like, ‘Excuse me?’,” she said. “It takes a lot of spine to be a centrist in America today. You get whacked from the left and whacked from the right. That’s my life. I get whacked.”
At the New England-regional Boston Globe, however:
In a multicandidate race, [a majority vote is] a mandate, Raimondo says. And now a politician who rose to prominence by pushing pension reforms that enraged public employees is using her mandate to pursue a list of progressive policy goals: expanding a tuition-free college program, universal pre-K, raising the minimum wage, new gun safety laws, pot legalization. She is calling for more money for public schools, after a round of distressingly low student test scores.
Put it all together, and what do you got? Raimondo is a progressive who wants to appear moderate to a national audience. Her PR team is (or “teams are”) savvy enough to craft their message for different audiences, and mainstream journalists and columnists are happy to play along. (Note that the Boston Globe article is by Mark Arsenault, who was at the Providence Journal until 2009.)
Election results notwithstanding, Raimondo still isn’t very popular in her home state. But she’s smoothly transitioning to status as a fully national Democrat, which means she’ll have plenty of help appearing to different audiences however she wants to appear.