A “charm offensive” refers to a coordinated campaign of personal engagement, public relations efforts, and sometimes even flattery, aimed at winning the favor or support of a particular group.
Typically launched to gain backing for a specific policy, repair tarnished reputations, or forge alliances, a charm offensive employs a softer, more personable approach in contrast to hard-nosed negotiations or confrontational tactics.
Whether it’s a series of town halls, diplomatic soirees, or targeted media appearances, the objective is to engender goodwill and shift public or institutional opinion more favorably toward the individual in question.
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A candidate’s deliberate strategic effort to woo supporters.
Republican consultant Reed Galen notes that, in politics, candidates spend their time with two types of people: those who will follow them to the ends of the earth and those who haven’t made up their minds. “The charm offensive is an age-old practice of spending personal and extensive time with the undecided or skeptical among the chattering class, activists or voters,” said Galen, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House advance team, John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, and numerous other campaigns.
As Senator Bernie Sanders made headway in his bid for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton aimed to shore up support among her former colleagues in Congress. “Hillary Clinton’s Capitol Hill charm offensive is in full swing,” Politico reported in July 2015. “The front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president will blanket Congress with members-only meetings on Tuesday that will give lawmakers a chance to personally question Clinton about their priorities—and give her a chance to sell her candidacy to any lingering skeptics.”
From Doubletalk © 2016 Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.
Use of “Charm Offensive” in a sentence
- In a strategic move to garner bipartisan support for his infrastructure bill, the President launched a charm offensive, hosting a series of closed-door meetings and golf outings with key legislators from both parties.
- After a diplomatic fallout, the country embarked on an international charm offensive, dispatching its charismatic foreign minister to various capitals to mend relationships and advocate for renewed alliances.
- Faced with plummeting approval ratings, the governor initiated a statewide charm offensive, making surprise visits to local businesses and schools to reconnect with constituents and dispel notions of being out of touch.
Taegan Goddard is the creator of the Political Dictionary.
Goddard spent more than a decade on Wall Street as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he also served as a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You Won – Now What?: How Americans Can Make Democracy Work from City Hall to the White House, a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties.
His essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the country.
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University.
He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.