Kadima unveils Obamaesque campaign

Party strategist to 'Post': In Israel, change goes back to the days of former Shinui leader Tommy Lapid.

livni boy 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
livni boy 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Kadima's strategists unveiled a new campaign for the party at a press conference Tuesday at its Petah Tikva headquarters, that is reminiscent of American President-elect Barack Obama's. The campaign handed out T-shirts with the English slogan "Believni" and a sketched profile of Kadima Leader Tzipi Livni, modeled after Obama shirts in the US. It will also distribute an on-line cartoon parody of Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, similar to ads that mocked Obama's Republican challenger, Sen. John McCain. One of the campaign's new slogans will be as Obama-esque as it gets: "Tzipi Livni: The audacity to change," evoking Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" as well as his banner of "change." When the press conference ended, the campaign team played the song "Livni Boy," modeled after the popular "Obama Girl" song. Kadima strategist Reuven Adler told The Jerusalem Post at the press conference that he did not intend to copy the Obama campaign, even if it seemed that way. "In Israel, emphasizing change goes back to [the late leader of the Shinui ('change' in Hebrew) party Yosef] Tommy Lapid," Adler said. "We are saying it, because the public expects Tzipi to make changes." The chair of the campaign, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, added that such messages were fit for Livni because "she really isn't the same, she really is a different kind of politician." But after the press conference, strategist Lior Chorev admitted that Obama was in fact at the back of their minds. "Of course he has had an influence on our campaign, as he has had on campaigns around the world," Chorev said. "He ran a brilliant campaign, and it's important to learn from it. But we didn't go and copy Obama the way Bibi did with his Web site." The main slogan of the campaign will be "Tzipi Livni: A different kind of leader." In an effort to portray Livni as clean and courageous, her other campaign slogans will be "The audacity to tell the truth" and "The audacity to stand up to corruption." Continuing attacks on Netanyahu that started with the "I don't believe Bibi" slogan that has run on buses for weeks and the "Bibi-bluff" Web site, Kadima created a new site called "Bibilon," modeled after the Babylon translation site. The site includes a dictionary translating from what Netanyahu says to what he really means. In an effort to pressure Netanyahu to agree to a debate, the campaign distributed an game where players could try to move the Likud leader's head onto a podium The campaign team vowed that Livni would personally answer every question sent to her on her campaign blog. "This race is a fight between someone who was there and failed and someone who could really bring a better future to the people of Israel," said Vice Premier Haim Ramon, the campaign's vice chairman. "Our problem is that Bibi refuses to debate, because he is afraid that in a debate, Tzipi will reveal who he is and how he hasn't changed." In response, Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar said that "Livni is not a leader and was a full partner in the Kadima government and all its failures. She has not done anything audacious or ever stood up for her opinion. Whoever votes Kadima will get not change, but a rerun of the past three years."