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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Donny Deutsch

Aired August 19, 2003 - 20:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming soon to California television sets, the first campaign commercial by Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you're looking for specific stance on the issues, you're not going to find them. Joining me now to discuss Schwarzenegger strategy is Donny Deutsch, he is the chairman and CEO of Deutsch, Incorporated. Good to see you.
DONNY DEUTSCH, CHAIRMAN & CEO, DEUTSCH, INC.: Great to be here.

ZAHN: Let's take a look together at this commercial that California voters will soon see. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This historic election has come about because there's a tremendous disconnect between the people of California and the leaders of California. We the people are doing our job -- working hard, raising our families, and paying taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Why are you laughing, Donny? It doesn't work for you?

DEUTSCH: It's almost a parody of itself. It's so, you know, Schwarzenegger, his selling point is that he's an outsider, he's not a political candidate. And here he does the most cliched, kind of hackneyed type of political ad you can possibly do. It's almost laughable. I mean, I'm expecting some kind of "Saturday Night Live" routine. I actually think the more Schwarzenegger kind of stays in the background and doesn't try and act like a real candidate, he's going to be successful. The more he tries to kind of be -- you know, do the political 101 stuff, I think he hurts himself, and he lets it show he's not a real candidate.

ZAHN: But the reality is, strategists have suggested he could spend upwards of $1 million a week on these ads, and somehow he's got to get some kind of a message out to the voter. How would you...

DEUTSCH: Well, that's another point. There is no message.

ZAHN: Would you have him go out in his little Terminator outfit, talk about school children and what they need in the classroom?

DEUTSCH: It's interesting, if you talk about message, there's no message in that spot. And once again, so if you wanted to do a hard- hitting spot, a real spot, even a negative spot, you know, whether we like it or not, research has shown that negative ads are more effective because there are more facts in it. Excuse me.

Here he got out there, basically said nothing. So, you know, either get out there, say something strong, say something very fresh as an outsider. But to use this kind of just goofy music in the background, and you know, we as Californians -- I mean, to me I think that's going to turn people off. And it's really showing that there's really not much behind there.

ZAHN: You don't think at any level the patriotic theme strikes a chord?

DEUTSCH: I think it's got to be done -- I just think it's done so hackneyed and so -- I mean, once again, just if you listen to the words in there, all he's saying is, you know, literally, we've got to get jobs for everybody, and we've got to take care of children. I mean, the stuff that every politician has said since the beginning of time. Here he's coming and saying there's a $38 billion deficit, I'm going to do things differently. Yet in his first kind of public foray, vis a vis advertising, he's doing things exactly the same.

ZAHN: If you were producing him, would you do an attack ad on Governor Gray Davis?

DEUTSCH: I would do -- I would really try to get a lot of facts out there, continue to remind people of the problems in California, and I would do very un-advertising type advertising, do very newsy stuff. I'd follow him around with a video cam. Really get the real guy out there. That's his whole selling point, you know, I'm not a politician, I'm a real guy, I've got kids. I wouldn't put him in this glossed over kind of environment.

ZAHN: All right, you've got biceps. Would you use the biceps thing with him? Or would you have him traipse around in a little Navy suit jacket?

DEUTSCH: I would have him exactly look the way he does. Just in a blazer, just -- you know, you don't want him all of a sudden dressing like a politician. You also obviously don't want him in the old Arnold kind of stuff, if you will.

I actually think as times goes on, it's going to be tougher and tougher for him, because he's going to really have to define himself. You know, he's gotten this initial burst of the excitement, and you know, he's the Terminator. Now it comes down to real stuff. And once again, in his first public foray, didn't really show much there.

ZAHN: Donny Deutsch, thanks for dropping by.

DEUTSCH: Good to be here.

ZAHN: Always cuts straight to the chase, doesn't he?

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