Getting Ferrer There

Nick Baldick, best known as the man behind John Edwards’s “two Americas” 2004 strategy, journeyed up from D.C. to New York to help save Ferrer’s campaign after its initial stumbles. Greg Sargent spoke with Baldick on the eve of the Democratic primary.

Some have suggested that out-of-town operatives like you have repackaged the once-fiery Ferrer to be too bland to stir up the base.
I came from the most populist presidential campaign. If anyone was going to de-populist Freddy, it wouldn’t be me. Unfortunately, some reporters in this town want anger. They should look for passion instead.

Still, Ferrer’s not tapping anywhere near the energy he did in 2001. Why?
In 2001, Latinos and blacks were angry after eight years of Giuliani. In this race, Bloomberg has already anesthetized voters with millions in TV ads.

But Bloomberg’s also handled race way better than Rudy. How do you beat him?
Before those ads, people knew Bloomberg didn’t understand their problems. They’ll be reminded of that once we have a nominee who stands in sharp contrast to him.

What makes city campaigns different from national ones?
TV is so expensive here—unless you’re Bloomberg—that campaigns are more about earned media and retail politics.

What’s been your high point?
Ferrer’s speech about poverty at Hunter College. He said what needed to be said.

Was that a response to critics who want old fiery Freddy back?
It was a response to seeing the pain of evacuees from Katrina.

Does Katrina amplify Freddy’s message that people are getting left behind?
Absolutely. That’s been the entire theme of the campaign—that you have to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.

Getting Ferrer There