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Five Debate Tactics Obama and Romney Should Employ

by Keith Koffler on October 3, 2012, 11:18 am

Direct from the Department of Unsolicited Advice here in the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia, I give you the top five things President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney need to do in tonight’s debate.

Let’s get started.

Mitt:

1.  Be specific. Tell Americans exactly what you are going to do. Give them the Ryan plan. Why did you choose Paul Ryan if you’re not excited about his ideas? You’ll look so honest next to the guy across the stage who has nothing but platitudes. And to ward off the “Bush tried this” criticism, talk about how the recession was caused by liberal homeownership policies and Democratic support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You’ll confuse the issue about what caused the recession – which everyone thinks is Bush’s fault – and you’ll be accurate.

2. You are a compassionate and good man. But because your campaign is terrible, and because your own reticence to boast about your good deeds is an inherent part of being a standup guy, Obama has largely succeeded in painting you as a rich ogre who drinks the blood of the middle class. So give examples of people you’ve met on the campaign trail who are suffering, show how you feel about it, and talk specifically about how your policies will help them.

3. You are way behind with women because of the incorrect perception that you can’t deal with them in a professional setting. List the women you have appointed to positions of power, talk about how you intend to make a woman your chief of staff and that you anticipate giving half your Cabinet to the ladies – I know, this isn’t your plan, but make it your plan – and casually mention that only one of Obama’s top White House advisers – Valerie Jarrett – is of the distaff variety. Yeah, it’s pandering, but you’ve got nothing to lose.

4. Attack everything Obama says. You will have a tremendous opening, because most of what he says won’t be true.

5. Please, oh God, please don’t use any Reagan quotes. If you say “There you go again,” the election is over. You’ll just look like wannabe. Definitely use a good zinger – that’s what the debates are remembered for – but make it your own. And don’t get flustered when Obama uses his prepared zingers. His campaign says he’s not going to use any, but that’s just so when he does it will seem spontaneous.

Barack:

1. Cast a spell that magically makes Romney look and sound like Bush. You’ve been brilliant in neutralizing Romney’s polices by claiming he would only do what you think Bush did to the economy. Make Romney look like a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman from the same company as the last guy you threw out of the house.

2. Repeat that the economy was on the brink of implosion when you arrived just in time to save the day. It’s been a great way of deflecting criticism that the economy under you remains awful. I mean, of course, it’s little bit like a surgeon saying “Well, I removed the wrong kidney, but at least the patient is feeling better.” But it seems to be working.

3. Don’t get flustered. Romney is going to try to get under your skin. You’ve been living in a bubble and avoiding tough questions from the press – both because you’ve been avoiding the press and they won’t ask them. So you’re not used to criticism. Just give Romney a sorrowful look as if to say, “You poor, confused old man.”

4. Don’t demonize Romney. Let your surrogates do this. As president, you need to seem presidential. Tell him you understand his point of view, but unfortunately, oh so unfortunately, his ideas will lead to unhappiness, sickness, and death.

5. Speak your concluding remarks in Spanish. Okay, don’t go that far, but talk during the debate about how wonderful immigration is and how you don’t want Hispanic children to have to go back to God-forsaken Mexico. Romney is making an aggressive effort with Latinos, and you need to be on guard.

What do you think they should do tonight? I know many of you won’t be having advice for Obama, but if not, how do you think Romney should approach this?

{ 32 comments }

Playrighter October 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

I think you should make sure that a copy of this gets to both camps.

KmB October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

What Obama should do if he were really interested in the country and not himself. Ask for a few moments before the debate proceeded, concede that he tried and failed and resign immediately from the office of the President. walk over to Romney apologize and wish him good luck and then exit, stage left…

DeniseVB October 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

Just what I would have said ! Only you said it so much better than the words scrambled in my head :D

AnotherOpinion October 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Perfect

Girly1 October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

Advice to Romney:
Avoid excess verbiage;
Be succinct;
Look Obama straight in the eye;
Don’t be afraid to use the “L” word (LIE), i.e.”Sorry, Mr. President, that is a LIE!”;’
Avoid descriptive adverbs such as ‘swimmingly’, ‘marvelously”’;
Show a little righteous indignation when the occasion warrants;
Last, but not least, give the naysayers some ‘specifics’!

Advice to Barack:
Start packing!

AFVET October 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

I think that Romney should not denigrate Obama, but instead try to corner him.
Barry is a slippery dude and Romney needs to put him right back in the corner.
Obama is on a world stage tonight and if Romney can get under his skin and agitate him effectively, we will see what Obama really is.
Romney has nothing to apologize for, keep that in mind while watching the debate.

RT Boogs October 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Good stuff. If our President does get cornered, look for the rope-a-dope from Obama. This is an effective tactic while regrouping. Not sure Mitt has enough punches in him, hence why most folks are suggesting the big swing or sucker punch…

Oddly, there is a beauty in the ugliness of it all…

gree October 3, 2012 at 11:49 am

I think Romney should find the opportunity to speak of his many acts of caring and charity that took his time and the decisions that he made about his life that were not for self aggrandisement or political gain and did not involve his money,
this in response to the 47% campaign. I doubt that Obama could point to anything that wouldn’t pale in comparison, that he could not attribute to wealth as a criterion and which were not for politics or his (public) CV.

Star October 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

I think we should let this play out. This advice seems so gratuitous to me. Again, a laundry list of “specifics” that may or may not ever materialize would be a mistake.

Kimbly October 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Romney should bring an empty chair up to the stage, proceed to place it behind Obama’s podium, then look up in surprise when Obama walks on and say “Oh, I didn’t think you were going to show up for this since it’s such a drag and all.”

Chas October 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Since Obama shows little to no respect for the office of the president in the first place, no respect is due him either. Go for the throat Mitt.

RT Boogs October 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Chase – I like it. This approach does not work unless he can get the President to “appear” to hit him first… The debate stage is not the place for a sucker punch… at least not one the viewers can detect…lol…

Sadie October 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Why I’ve never been asked to give advice for a presidential debate:

1. Romney should promptly sucker punch Obama right after the traditional handshake.
2. A framed guide to the WARN Act should be placed on Obama’s podium prior to the debate.
3. Wrap up the debate with Romney mimicking Ed Grimley character (SNL) http://youtu.be/YvbQKSaYQD8

srdem65 October 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

First, I’d advise both candidates to assume they were only trying to convince the regular commenters of the WHD. They’re intelligent and thoughtful so they will listen carefully. There are some here who are stridently anti-Obama and some who are reluctantly pro-Romney.

MrRomney needs to convince us that we won’t be making a mistake by casting a vote for him, that he believes his agenda or plan will make a postive change for our country’s future.

MrObama needs to convince us that although he’s made mistakes in the past, he now believes that his agenda or plan will make a positive change for our country’s future.

Neither candidate will offer a specific plan for the future because the opposition will find immediate fault with it as a useless or stupid idea that wouldn’t work even in good times.
Tonight will bring the popular side-by-side comparison and the one who looks and sounds the most Presidential will be declared the ‘winner’.

RT Boogs October 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

*** LIKE ***

RT Boogs October 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Keith – Good stuff. Both candidates are going to be well prepped and your points are certainly on target.

What is going to be interesting, is the rule of chance / risk / reward. Both candidates are metaphorically in the 4th quarter of a football game. The Presidents team is, by most reasonable accounts, leading in the pivot states – 325+ is a number easily in play. Call it in football terms a 10 point lead with 2 minutes left – Mitts team has the ball.

Mitt is being told he must go for broke – take a risk – must do something to check and then drive back the drift in polls. It will require trick plays, risky plays, gutsy play calls, using all 4 downs, and some luck (a lot of luck?). The result will be interesting to watch cuz more of the same won’t get it done. Look for fireworks, or at least an attempt to be different. He’ll be in a suit, but Mitt will have a fire burning inside.

Our President is being told he must play it safe – prevent defense and ball control – scoring is not required. Look for President to be the President – his game play to run out the clock and press his advantage by simply holding on to the ball and “no fumbles”.

Re RISK: The stage is set. Each candidate being directed to do something they would rather not do. One to take risk and the other to mitigate risk. More often than most would care to admit, such strategy / tactics can compound the likelihood of achieving the opposite outcome than the one desired…

And it is precisely this dynamic that is generating so much excitement. And, the American voter will benefit from the process.

Girly1 October 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm

What’s up with FOX??? The disgraced CNN bigot, Rick Sanches, has just been hired for FOX Latino. He was on ‘Happening Now’ this a.m. – what a shocker! Except for Brett Baier, I’m done with FOX!

http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/rick-sanchez-returns-on-fox-news-latino_b147440

blondie October 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm
RT Boogs October 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Um, bad advice.

Susan October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thank you for linking to the article, blondie. I don’t watch MessNBC so that was enlightening. That video surprised me. Thought those meetings weren’t recorded? president Kardashian met with Reid, Dicky Durbin, Pelosi, & Hoyer at 5:30 PM ET on 7/21/11…to discuss raising the debt ceiling. Betcha there’s a lot more interesting information on that recording…

Girly1 October 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Bob Woodward has been on Morning Joe quite a bit lately – not good news for Obama. Evidentally he has had an epiphany – considering he was ga-ga over Obama in the early days. He and Chrissie Mathews. I hope his message is being heard in the swing states because it’s devastating for Obama. I’m actually tempted to pick up a copy of his latest book.

BOB WOODWARD’S NEW BOOK THE PRICE OF POLITICS DEPICTS OBAMA AS A JERK (a good read)

http://www.livetradingnews.com/bob-woodward-new-book-the-price-of-politics-depicts-obama-as-a-jerk-88030.htm

blondie October 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Little by little people are coming to their senses(very little,but better than nothing).
I love to remind my liberal friends that its Bob Woodward,of Watergate fame. They can’t shout conservative bias.

Susan October 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Really would prefer the scenario KmB outlined, but that’s never gonna happen with this narcissists massive ego.

If I had a say in it I’d like Romney to look directly in Obama’s eyes and list several examples of how he has violated our Constitution (ala the list of grievances against King George in the Declaration of Independence). Then ask this question… What prevents you from further violations of your oath of office when the threat of reelection is no longer hanging over your head, and you have more “flexibility” as you communicated to Vladimir?

AnotherOpinion October 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm

excellent!!

Girly1 October 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

This one should be at the top of Romney’s ‘list’. It speaks volumes!

Robin H October 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

We know the debate questions that Romney will be asked are of the “When did you stop hitting your wife?” variety so Romney needs to pull a few Newt’s and rephrase the questions to what they should be asking. He can do this politely, since he is a gentleman, and he can only do it once or twice before it will get tedious.

AnotherOpinion October 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hold Obama accountable for his record and his own words. Romney must not get defensive. Obama is the one who MUST answer questions. Foreign Aid has increased 80% under Obama. TWO credit downgrades. Unconstitutional executive orders. Increased healthcare instead of decreased. False employment numbers. 2000 military killed in Afghanistan. $ Americans killed in Benghazi. NO budget for 3 years. etc etc etc

Girly1 October 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hope Romney gets a chance to bring up the $165M govt. purchase/bailout of Thomson prison in Illinois. Early in 2009 Obama expressed his intent to transfer GITMO detainees to Illinois – looks like he’s got a plan now. Holder denies this is the case…what a joke. The irony of Jihadists being able to recruit from a prison in Obama’s home state is such a fitting end to this guy’s first (and hopefully, last) term!

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/02/lawmakers-claim-administration-opening-door-to-gitmo-transfer-with-illinois/

Susan October 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Where is he getting the $165M? Obama stash? Uncle Ben printing it up for him? This government it totally out of control under these power hungry liberals.

LLT October 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Wonderful advice from a great perspective. Love the football analogy!

working stiff October 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Very smug. Your man Romney just lied to the American people. Why does he hide? Because without the etch-a-sketch routine he wouldn’t stand a chance. Per Ann.

bFcGUulFnH77cs July 4, 2013 at 5:29 am

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