The Big Pitch: With one week left, what should the candidates do to get their message across?

Jim Lanard, Partner, FLG Strategies, Philadelphia, PA

Jim Lanard, Partner, FLG Strategies, Philadelphia, PA

Jim Lanard, Partner, FLG Strategies, Philadelphia, PA

The vice president has won the I'm-smarter-than-you-campaign, but it doesn't matter. Now, Al Gore must become likeable again. To do this, all TV availabilities need to be limited to town hall meetings (Al's version of 'I feel your pain'), living room chats with undecided voters and rallies where he is whipping up the crowd. Forget the 'seven issues' strategy Gore has announced. This isn't about the issues any more. It's your personality, stupid (to update James Carville's outdated mantra) And if the Veep doesn't get that, my bet is that the frat boy is gonna be buying all the Bud on Election Day.

Carl Bloice, Communications Specialist, California Nurses Association, Oakland, CA

The Green Party candidate Ralph Nader should take this opportunity to speak directly to the younger voters and those people who might not ordinarily get out and cast a ballot. He should take care to emphasize campaign finance reform, political overhaul and universal healthcare. A major section of the population feels shortchanged by the choice of candidates offered by the major parties. Now is the time to draw a connection between the role of money in politics and the lack of popular input into the process of candidate selection. I think it should be asserted that a vote for the Nader candidacy is a vote for repairing a broken mechanism.

The thing to do is to let people know that he is dedicated to opening up the political process in a way that will give both new and frustrated voters hope for more of a say in how the democratic process unfolds.

Dan Pero, Managing director, Shandwick, Detroit, MI

The Bush campaign should be on auto-pilot now. Stay with the message that has brought you this far - trusting families to make decisions, not government - and continue painting Gore as the big-government liberal.

Work with Republican governors and concentrate on swing states. Try to squeeze out the final 50,000-75,000 votes in these states to ensure a narrow victory by using local political allies to generate stories in secondary media markets not covered by the candidate. No need for hail Mary's or anything goofy. Remember, one silly PR mistake can turn into a national story that can shift campaign momentum.

Robbie Vorhaus and Kyle Potvin, CEO and VP, Vorhaus & Co., New York, NY

Hey, Al and W - it's not too late. Get a theme. With just a few weeks to go, the campaigns are reportedly in a dead heat. Truth is, thematically, they're just dead. Without a theme, you are both reduced to lists and rhetoric. That's not good enough when folks are trying to figure out the right presidential choice. Although Americans are saying, 'What are you going to do for me?' what they're really hoping is 'please stand for something important so I can feel good about my decision.' So enough of the slogans.

Enough of the fuzzy math and bumbling and babbling. If you really want Americans off the fence, take a shot, reveal your true nature and own a theme. President Bush reveled in lists and an incumbency. Bill Clinton had persistence and a theme. The man who connected emotionally won. You guys could do the same. Remember, he who tells the best story wins Gentleman, start your themes.

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