The first GOP presidential debate tomorrow night is unpredictable. That’s why such a big audience is expected.
A New Hampshire focus group conducted by pollster Frank Luntz produced “an explosion of passion” that Luntz labeled “one of the best focus groups I’ve ever done.”
As a speaking coach and former elected GOP official, here’s what to watch for:
1- Can Donald Trump appear both brash and thoughtful? Trump’s lead in the polls can be attributed to his striking a nerve on illegal immigration and his anti-establishment persona. But knocking over the apple cart isn’t enough. Presidential candidates have to be capable of fixing what’s wrong. He must convince people he has the right temperament to handle the most sensitive, and dangerous, situations. Personally attacking people will harm him with voters in the middle, the ones he would need to be a viable general election candidate.
2- Jeb Bush is in the opposite position. He’s a thoughtful, serious man who can put people to sleep. He has to show passion and convince primary voters he’s got the fight to take on Hillary. He has to be more than Bush Three.
3- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has to show he’s up to the task on foreign policy. Iran, Moscow, North Korea — they are a long way from Madison, Wisconsin.
4 – Each of the remaining candidates needs to carve out some niche that resonates with primary voters. Clarity counts.
How well the three Fox News moderators handle the 10-candidate showdown is anyone’s guess. It won’t be easy, especially with The Donald.
Donald Trump hosting a GOP presidential debate may seem like a bad joke, but the joke will be on any presidential contender who participates in this farce on December 27th.
Trump has already “played the media” for far more publicity than he ever deserved regarding the presidential race. Yes, the media is drawn to colorful characters because they attract viewers and readers, but why would any serious presidential candidate take part in the Trump show? As long as we have body bags coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq and nine percent unemployment, we can agree the presidency is serious business. Pandering to Donald Trump will make any Republican candidate look weak and lessen the chances any one of them will beat Barack Obama next year.
One might ask, “What exactly are Trump’s journalistic credentials?” Is highlighting fights between Omarosa and anyone else who comes near her one of them? To their credit, contenders Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman have refused to take part in the Trump debate. Trump responded by calling Paul a “clown-like candidate.” A Paul spokesman said, “the selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity.”