Let me finish tonight with what it takes to be a great leader. You are free to do with it what you will. After all, I got it from someone else, a Canadian pollster named Allen Gregg. Every great leader, he told years ago, has three key elements: motive, passion, spontaneity. Motive. You know why they’re in public life, know what they care about, what they have devoted themselves to achieving. For Lincoln, it was slavery. For Roosevelt, it was the victim of the Great Depression, the person he called “the forgotten man.” For Reagan, it was his strong notion of personal freedom and defeating the Communists. Passion. Now there’s something you see in “every” great leader. You see it in their obvious patriotism, the emotion in their eyes, the delight they get in the good fight, the anger that flashes when their values are offended. And then there’s spontaneity. It’s the sense you get every time you see them that there’s a real person in there, that the lights are on and there “is” someone home. You see that spontaneity in their rapt reaction to events, to the unexpected situation, the unscripted moment, when, not surrounded by advisers, they have to show what they’ve got. We saw it yesterday when Matt Lauer asked Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to agree on the spot to drop their negative ads, to shake hands on it, right there on the spot. Jerry Brown jumped. “If she quits ‘em, I quit ‘em.” “No question,” he said.” “We do it together.” Instead of matching, Meg Whitman parried, she couldn’t make the deal. “I just don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” she said. When Matt Lauer said people would like to see her “shake” on the deal, she didn’t. Long after people forget all the nasty 30 second ads Meg Whitman pays for between now and next Tuesday, that moment of stubborn refusal may be the one people remember.
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'Stubborn refusal' to drop negative ads may haunt Whitman