TO: Prime Minister Berlusconi
FROM: Mark Penn
DATE: April 5, 2006
RE: Next week's election
I apologize for the talking point about the testicles. (I'm telling you, Maddie Albright got a bounce when she talked about Cuba and cojones -- maybe try it in Spanish.) And sorry for the Christ comparison idea. (We had excellent numbers on Jesus.) But I stand by the line about the Chinese. Remember, you have to focus on the concerns of average Italian voters -- jobs, healthcare, and Chinese babies boiled into fertilizer by Communists.
Some other points:
• Your line about Italian secretaries being the most beautiful in the world went over well with visiting foreign investors. But, true, it has cost you some support among women voters -- mainly in the 18-to-85 demographic. I think the way to patch that up might be through the media. (I'm told you control about 90 percent of that, and that is definitely something we should leverage.)
• Our polls show that voters associate the Berlusconi brand fairly strongly with organized crime, and this is dragging down your numbers in the non-incarcerated voting segment. What you need is a Sister Souljah moment. We recommend that you invite James Gandolfini to Italy and publicly berate him.
• You've said, "I fight communism the way Churchill fought against Nazism." Great comparison -- under-45 rural women really like that sort of confidence. But you should go with a positive message about what you're fighting for, like: "Churchill fought against Nazism, but I'm fighting for jobs, healthcare, and education." That worked for Tom Vilsack.
• I like your line about how "Only Napoleon did more than I have done," and it's given you a 30 percent spike on Corsica. But, since that's in France, how about someone more local? Augustus Caesar, for instance, also had a lot of legislative accomplishments.
• Final suggestion. I don't always recommend this, but denial can be a
genuine ace-in-the-hole. If the numbers go against you, and if the courts rule against you, do not -- repeat, do not -- concede. Drag it out for several embarrassing weeks. Or just stay in office. That was my advice to Bob Mugabe.