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.
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.
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?