Politicians and their minders know well that when it comes to winning and losing elections images are everything. One crucial moment can define a candidate as a winner or a loser.
Anybody who doubts that need only remember John Hewson or Mark Latham. Mr Hewson's fortunes took a shocking turn for the worse after he fumbled his explanation about how the Liberals' proposed GST would affect the price of a cake during an interview with Mike Willisee in March 1993. The footage was blamed for costing the Liberals what had, until then, been considered the unlosable election.
Fast forward to October 2004 and it was Labor's turn. Prime Minister John Howard and the then Opposition Leader Mark Latham encountered each other outside a radio station. Latham advanced on the much smaller PM, grabbed his hand and appeared to shake him around like a rag doll. The footage went viral and many voters never looked at the Labor leader in quite the same way ever again.
These are all reasons why campaign managers are reluctant to expose their charges to chance encounters with the public. In the words of Forrest Gump "you never know what you're going to get".
It's also why, when the PM visited flood affected areas of the north coast, media management went into overdrive. Journalists were not present when Mr Morrison met with people who had just lost everything and were justifiably unhappy with the government response.
So why then was Mr Morrison allowed to saunter into the Edgeworth Tavern on the outskirts of Newcastle on Wednesday for a quick "meet and greet"?
Once inside he was accosted by an angry pensioner who took him to task over the government's failure to support older Australians, the contradictions inherent in the administration of the disability pension system, and the failure to deliver an ICAC.
The PM's face said it all. After a week during which he had been exposed to numerous acts of bastardry by his own and received several more unsolicited character assessments from one-time friends he was obviously wondering what else could go wrong.
From Labor's point of view the footage is the perfect bookend to video of Mr Morrison forcing a handshake on an exhausted fire fighter during the Black Summer bushfires and being berated by an unhappy former home owner leading a goat.
This is not the look the Liberals have been aiming for. And, while it is probably the last straw for a beleaguered leader who has gone from being the party's greatest campaign asset to arguably its greatest liability, it's too late in the day to replace Mr Morrison with somebody, such as Josh Frydenberg, who is more marketable.
According to a poll conducted by Roy Morgan in February 38.5 per cent of respondents felt Mr Frydenberg would make a better Liberal Prime Minister than Mr Morrison who was languishing on 31 per cent. Mr Dutton, for the record scored just 12.5 per cent.
Many within the Liberal party must now be ruing the lost opportunity to switch leaders given so much of the ALP campaign is built around questioning the PM's integrity.
The only way such a change could be made now is if the PM voluntarily stepped aside - and that is just not going to happen.
Even if he did the Coalition would then go on to lose the election for other reasons that are obvious.
While, with the election still a month and a half away, it would be premature to write the government off entirely, it is becoming harder and harder to see how it could secure victory.
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