After the most acrimonious presidential debate in American history, both candidates accomplished their minimal objectives: Donald Trump held onto his core supporters, while Hillary Clinton held onto her lead.

In the first debate, Clinton prevailed because Trump was unprepared, This time, despite distractions ranging from the release of his x-rated recorded interview to recent defections by Republican officeholders, Trump was ready to execute his game-plan of all-out attacks on Clinton for her husband’s alleged personal misconduct, her own email controversy, and her more than thirty years in public life. But the question remains whether Trump’s take-no-prisoners strategy is a winner beyond his base.  

Two words sum up each candidates’ strategy: Trump strived to be emphatic, thereby conveying strength and sincerity. Clinton sought to be empathetic, just as her husband had been during a similar town hall debate in 1992.

Trump’s rhetorical devices:

Signifiers of straight talk: Time after time, Trump used phases such as “If you want to know the truth” and “I’ll be honest.” The goal: presenting himself as a tough truth-teller and change-agent.

by Sally Katzen and Alex Stapleton

With an election year around the corner, an outgoing administration focused on legacy building and the fractious dynamics of divided government, 2016 is shaping up to be a year where many major policy debates will most certainly be driven – and in some cases decided – by regulation. There will be winners and losers in this race; with the right expertise, those organizations with a vested interest in the results can seize – and in some cases create – opportunities for shaping them.

Understanding the Basics

Think tanks occupy an in-between space in Washington — neither government agency nor business nor media outlet — and yet they play in all three spaces. Usually nonprofit, they are a source of policy recommendations and personnel for government, they work frequently with businesses and industry, and they both generate their own content for the media and serve as regular sources for journalists. 

An organization with advocacy goals in Washington or other major hubs like New York, London and Brussels can benefit in both the short term and long term by effectively identifying, working with and even partnering with think tanks to support the convening of high-level conversations with policymakers, fund academic research and cultivate allies.

It’s not a slow-motion train wreck, or death by a thousand cuts, or a self-inflicted calamity. It’s all of that. And unless Sony changes course, it could get a lot worse.

Yes, Sony is the victim of one of the worst hacking attacks ever on a private company. It lost valuable, copyrighted, creative material. Private financial data and the medical records of employees were stolen from the company, given to the media and shared on the Internet. Embarrassing emails written by senior Sony officials dissing major stars and speculating about President Barack Obama’s movie habits showed them to be indiscreet and racially insensitive.

For Sony, it’s been a daily ritual of public humiliation, fueled by corporate panic, financial vulnerability, legal maneuvering and the public’s insatiable appetite for a salacious Hollywood scandal.

In this latest issue of PG TV, PG strategists David Adams and Lauren Maddox are disputing what many have reported as the stagnation that persists in Washington. Here, they discuss some of the many advocacy opportunities and tactics that exist - no matter the climate on Capitol Hill - for organizations pursuing a legislative agenda in Washington. 

As operations in Afghanistan wind down and we begin to consider the consequences of the past decade of war, force ratio for counterinsurgency (COIN) is coming under increased scrutiny. For pedestrians, in short, we're talking about troop levels and the age-old question for policymakers, "How many does it take to get the job done?" The answer has been pondered by the US military, academia and think tanks, with a host of responses.The result is typically 'plug-and-play' equations for minimum force rations in COIN operations, made more complicated by the inability to precisely predict the numbers of insurgent forces. 

Podesta Group international security strategist, Riley Moore, tackles this issue in a recent white paper titled, "Counterinsurgency Force Ratio: Strategic Utility or Nominal Necessity," and published by Routledge of Taylor & Francis. An executive summary is provided by Riley below.

In order to read the entire article, you can download it for purchase here.


In this latest issue of PG TV, former aide to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Randall Gerard, and former policy director for Democratic leader Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), AJ Jones, both now PG strategists, sit down to walk through the politics behind the shutdown and the changing dynamic on Capitol Hill that has helped create this mess. 

The government shutdown is nearing the end of its second day, and despite a White House meeting between congressional leaders and President Obama this evening, the situation on Capitol Hill remains volatile with little sign that a deal is imminent. Below are three things for you to consider as part of your shutdown watch.

1. No sign of a deal. Last night’s “mini-CR” strategy advanced by House Republican leaders was the opening salvo in what could be a protracted messaging battle between the White House and congressional Republicans. Look for both sides in this fight to use the tools available to them to try to generate more political pressure on the other. President Obama has the benefit of the White House’s “bully pulpit” to create grassroots support and high-level media opportunities, while House Republicans have the ability to focus pressure on politically vulnerable House Democratic members through the legislative process.

The result will likely continue to be trench warfare, in which both sides remain hardened in their resolve to deny the other a victory on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

When a prominent African businessman was being unfairly challenged in the media and his reputation was at stake, he turned to the Podesta Group to fight back. Watch as Podesta Group senior PR strategists and former journalists John Anderson and Erin Billings travel to Africa to combat the negative narrative, change perceptions and restore his brand.

In this latest episode of PG TV, Andy Amsler, Director of Digital Media at Podesta Group, makes the case for organizations afraid to dive into the sometimes intimidating waters of online strategy, and discusses best practices to ensure success with a digital advocacy campaign.