Reporter, come here and talk to 'appropriate people'
Controlling the message by controlling candidates has become a preoccupation of the Conservative war room. For good reason.
Unscripted remarks hurt the party in both the 2004 and 2006 campaigns.
So far, the discipline seems to have paid off (if you ignore comments by staffers and, er, the odd minister made before the campaign began).
A glimpse into why that may be the case: Today in London West, the affable Edwin Holder, Conservative candidate, sat down for a lengthy interview with CBC News. But before the tape was rolling a campaign official announced that Holder would not answer any questions pertaining to the policy planks being unveiled in the national campaign.
Instead, the reporter would be referred to the "appropriate people" (presumably at campaign HQ) who could answer those types of questions. Holder could, however, talk feely about local issues affecting the riding.
When asked if this was a decision taken by the war room or by the Holder campaign, the answer was "the local campaign."
Meanwhile, in nearby Kitchener-Conestoga, Conservative candidate Harold Albrecht gave a full interview to CBC News with no conditions. However, a request to go door-knocking with Albrecht was declined.
In 2006 Albrecht, now the incumbent MP, was at the centre of controversy over whether he hid from reporters during a campaign visit by leader Stephen Harper. For the record, Albrecht says he was never muzzled, and appeared later that day at a public campaign event.
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