Shortly after the 1998 election, I went to a conference in Minneapolis organized by the Center for Voting and Democracy and FairVote Minnesota on electoral reform. This was the year that Jesse Ventura won the gubernatorial election on the Reform Party ticket with 38% of the vote, and lots of people were wondering how it happened.
Former Congressman Tim Penny was a major adviser to Ventura, and he said that Ventura connected with people and earned their votes because he told the truth. He didn't try to sugar coat or avoid offense. He told the truth. His phrase was a memorable one: 'candor instead of pander'
Lots of people I spoke with in Eau Claire, Wisconsin who were going to vote for Bush said they were going to do so because Kerry was a little wishy-washy while Bush was straight. They would not have had that critique of Governor Dean. (They might have had some other critique, but who knows). I think our candidates should be straight-talking, here's-how-it-is types. I think we do better that way.
This article on Howard Dean's recent visit to Northwestern was really refreshing. I like that Dean says the truth about Justice Scalia: He is a rude, pompous person who shouldn't be a Justice of the Supreme Court. I like how he calls out the Bush campaign on their use of homophobia to energize voters with 11 gay marriage referenda. Independent voters especially value candor.