The exhibit begins with a message from a party leader who provides an overview of the process and demands a candidate who can represent the party well and bring home a victory next November. The candidate then meets his or her staff, composed of a campaign manager, political director, press secretary, finance chair, and communications director. The staff surfaces throughout the balance of the exhibit to provide timely advice as the visitor as candidate navigates the precarious process.
An overview of the early primary season with a focus on the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary follows, along with a look at media relations from the perspective of both the press secretary and a reporter. The finance chair illuminates the need for a continuous flow of campaign cash to run a national contest, and the political director focuses on a dozen or so swing states that historically decide presidential races in the Electoral College.
The candidate is then welcomed into an inner sanctum called the "Briefing Room," where one is asked to hone their image using past candidates (Ike, JFK, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43) as models. The defensive aspect of campaigning is also detailed, and historic attacks such as LBJ's "Daisy Ad" are featured. Finally, candidates are asked to craft their issue positions and to use polling data to decide which planks to emphasize, and others to ignore or downplay.
"The Final Push" punctuated by the candidate's 72-hour plan is the final stop on the campaign before one's fate is placed in the hands of voters. Candidates are able to practice victory and concession speeches in case of either outcome.
Visitors ultimately enter through a curtain into the voter resources section of the exhibit, where they can use a computer interactive that allows them to match their issue preferences with those of the 2008 field on five different issues. Other features provide links to a polling web site, another that tracks candidate travels, and a final site that helps local voters find polling locations. Candidate collateral is available for the taking (bumper stickers, fliers, pins, etc.), and visitors may pick up voter registration forms or register with our staff on site.
The exhibit is open through Election Day in 2008, and admission to the museum and the exhibit are free starting this Friday through the end of 2007.
To see CBS 2's preview of the exhibit, featuring an interview of your's truly, click here.