The first debate between Mitt Romney and the President will be on 3 October and in most ways it will be for Romney the Grand Final, Superbowl and World Series all in one. I don’t know what it will actually mean to “win” the debate, but on past observation, the major test is merely to look presidential. You don’t have to look more commanding or show more authority. The bleak facts of the situation are well enough known to all. It will therefore be, I think, only necessary for Romney to show he has what it takes to do the job, that he has policies that are in tune with the needs of the time, and not to say anything that will fall into the territory of a major blunder.
Newt Gingrich has his own advice, and having lost in the debates to Romney, he may not be the ideal person from whom such advice should be taken. Nevertheless, he has had his successes and they have all stemmed from a rhetorical genius the led to the first Republican House majority since the Eisenhower administration. You can read the whole article here, which is mostly a history of past debates, but which finishes with suggestions for Romney. I have only included the topic headings used by Gingrich. If you are interested, you can read it all yourself.
Relax and be prepared
Be assertive and be on offense against both Obama and his media
Enjoy the evening
The only part of Gingrich’s advice I will mention in full is his advice about the media. What to do is anyone’s guess. Romney knows as well as anyone just how poisonous the media are and how they long for a genuine mistake to pillory him over. But he has his advisers and they have done the focus groups so they too have a strategy. For what it’s worth, these are Gingrich’s suggestions in full on how to deal with the media:
You can be on offense without being offensive.
The strongest reactions I got to my debates came from people who were desperate for someone to stand up to the media and redefine the questions and reframe the assumptions.
Americans are sick and tired of the unending liberalism and suffocating groupthink of the elite media.
If you look at my strongest applause lines virtually every one was taking on the media.
It is inevitable the media will ask Romney about ‘the 47 percent.’ Instead of answering it, Romney should pivot and say, ‘Let me tell you about the 100 percent. Obama has failed the 100 percent who have to buy gasoline. Obama has failed the 100 percent who will be paying interest on the Obama national debt for the rest of their lives. Obama has failed 100 percent of those who want to get a job and move on with their lives. Obama has failed everyone in the Middle East who had hoped the Arab Spring would lead to freedom by allowing it to turn into an Islamist winter.’
The country would be electrified.
Doesn’t seem so electrifying to me. Slow and steady wins the race which is the advice I would give. I think Romney’s already in a winning position. He now just has to close the deal.
But if you would like to see Gingrich in action against Obama, there is this reported today which is vintage stuff:
‘[Obama] really is like the substitute [National Football League] referees in the sense that he’s not a real president,’ Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Tuesday night. ‘He doesn’t do anything that presidents do, he doesn’t worry about any of the things the presidents do, but he has the White House, he has enormous power, and he’ll go down in history as the president, and I suspect that he’s pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.’
Nice, nice. I just don’t think this would do in a presidential debate.