Secrets Of Winning The Presidential Debates : NPR

Game on.  Gearing up for the debates…a few pointers:

We were inspired by a memo recently issued by Third Way, a Democratic advisory group — as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The memo offers a slew of helpful hints, including:

— Start by writing your “dream” post-debate headline.
— Develop a list of the three items you MUST say in the debate … use it as a checklist before each answer
— see if you can fit one in your answer.
— Punches are good; counterpunches are better.
— Study what your opponent has been saying, especially in the days just before debate … 90 percent of what your opponent will say in the debate will have come out of his mouth in the week before.
— Begin answers with “yes” or “no” if possible; answer first, then explain. … Voters will see you as candid and responsive.
via Secrets Of Winning The Presidential Debates : NPR.

Lessons are everywhere to be learned.  Consider what this Democratic Columbia Law prof learned while sparring against Walter Mondale–playing the role of Ronald Reagan.

Oh, and remember, it matters what you call each other.  See this post from The Caucus NYT blog on how naming makes a difference–and what it means.

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6 thoughts on “Secrets Of Winning The Presidential Debates : NPR

  1. Jordan White says:

    It seems like we care more about how the candidates present themselves, rather than what they actually say. Both campaigns seem to be down playing each candidates ability to debate, as a way to lower expectations. For the most part, if both play it safe, then they will do fine by the end. Both sides will declare victory, and say the other lost. Unless one of them says something very stupid, then what they say won’t hurt them. However, how the present themselves does make a big difference. It is ironic for a nation that speaks so much about not judging on looks, we tend to when it comes to the debates. We put a lot of stock in how a candidate holds themselves in a debate situation. For many who listened on the radio to the Nixon Kennedy debate, they said Nixon won, but for those who watched it, Kennedy won. One of the reason I think we put so much into appearance is that we get to see their character, and a President needs to be somewhat personable since they have to work with many people within and outside our nation. Most of us are intelligent enough to know that neither can fulfill their promises, so we need to know the character of them, to see if they will try to work with others. Something that was released by the Romney campaign is that he has been equipped with “zingers”, meaning he will be attacking. While that is good, it can back fire, as happened in the recent BYU Republican/BYU Democrat debate here on campus. The Republicans had many zingers, though these attacks lacked substance and were emotional. An Independent friend of mine found the Republicans to be petty and used lowly tactics. If one of the candidates do attack, they need to make sure their attacks are meaningful and do not rely on emotion.

    Really what matters in the debate is the little things. I watched a video by the Wall Street Journal (which I will post at the end of this post) where they talked about debates back to Nixon and Kennedy. The dumbest things were what got the most attention. President Bush Sr.’s constant looking at his watch, which gave the impression he didn’t have time for the American people, or the attitude that Gore had with all his sighing. These throw people off. it shows lack of character. Also an interesting note from the video is that since these are a gamble, since the littlest thing can hurt you, a candidate in the lead usually doesn’t ask for the debate.

  2. Dylan Bates says:

    I am very excited for these debates. Both candidates are skilled debaters, and I am sure both will come very prepared. It will be interesting to see who can perform better and who can keep their cool. I thought it was interesting to see that the presidential candidates are advised to be “real” and “vulnerable”. It seems to me that it will be hard for Mitt Romney to come off as real due to the change in his ideology we have seen from his days as governor. He seems to be saying whatever his far right constituency wants him to say. Maybe that is the “real” Romney though? He is a politician who will adopt the policy ideas and convictions of whichever constituency he represents. That could be a good thing, a politician who actually represents the people who are electing him.
    This link examines how debates have historically affected the presidential race
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2012/1002/Presidential-debates-Game-changers-or-time-wasters-video

  3. kelseyclark says:

    I will freely admit that Obama has charisma. He can deliver great speeches that emit responses from the public. This article was interesting to read because it helps us (the American people) glean some insight into how to better persuade people. I feel like the the bottom line is that you have to know your audience. You need to have an understanding in many different educational fields like: psychology, communications, public relations, public speaking, writing, voice, statistics, strategy, marketing, business, international relations, and so forth. A candidate cannot make the cut if he or she does not take all aspects of what their audience wants into consideration.

  4. marianorfila says:

    It is really interesting to see how each candidate will act as the time of elections are coming up. There is a sense of pressure and of rush to get as much votes possible before the election time comes. However, there are some that argue that the election is already over. (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/01/election_effectively_over_it_s_time_to_start_worrying_about_2013) Does the debates and speeches still count for something? can they be as powerful to change someones mind. The article talks how Romney speeches are helping Obama. Every time events have turned against the president, from weak job numbers to bad manufacturing results, from the debacle in Libya to the rapid deterioration in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and U.S.-Israel relations, “Romney has come to Obama’s rescue with a boneheaded statement or some distracting gaffe of his own.” According to the article, it is better to look ahead instead and start doing the planning for 2013 that the Obama White House, is not really doing right now.

  5. Romney has had a few difficult weeks. His main message seems to have lost the media’s attention in light of his “47%” comment, and his criticisms during the embassy attack in Libya. Polls have tightened a little bit since the Democratic National Convention, but the President still seems to be winning a majority of likely voters who have responded to the polling questions. A poll last week even showed him with a greater than 50% approval rating. The election is only a few weeks away, and the debates may be Romney’s last chance to get back on top. I read this article today http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/02/opinion/gergen-debate-stakes/index.html?hpt=op_t1 which argues much is at stake for Romney. It also argues that if the President can win these debates by a big margin and put the American people on his side, he will have a better shot at gaining political capital and using it to carry out his agenda in a second term.

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