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October 7, 2008

Presidential Debate #2: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!

 Armchair quarterbacks at home all believe that we know how to debate much better than Obama and McCain does. We’ll be hurling epithets at the television screen when our candidate misses an opportunity to verbally mangle his opponent or launch a one-liner that will soar the politician into the Lloyd Bensten Hall of fame:

One thing is certain: folks watching the debates are tough!

Does either Obama or McCain have an advantage?

On the surface, it can be argued that McCain has the home-field advantage. The town-hall format is something he prefers and has demonstrated much skill in.

The format allows for direct questioning of the candidates by the audience. 

How to win

So what are the keys to victory?  Much like when Terry Bradshaw and Mike Ditka outline what each team must do in this hallowed and sacred part of the year known as Football Season, two armchair political quarterbacks will analyze what must be done at tonight’s debate.

In the ‘D’ corner:

Chris Lehane is a Democratic strategist, frequent television commentator and former staffer in the Clinton White House.  He provided:

O’s Five Principals of Combat

1.  Error free ball:  The trajectory of this campaign will not change unless O makes a real mistake that plays into a negative storyline (inexperience, elite/arrogant). And the history of presidential debates is that they usually alter the fundamentals of a campaign only when a candidate makes a major mistake that plays into a negative typecast. Thus, no mistakes on something that matters.

2.  Counter-punch like Muhammad Ali: Ali, one of the greatest heavyweights ever, knocked out big punchers like Foreman, Norton, and Frazier by counter-punching. Like Ali, Obama needs to hit back when McCain attacks, because voters absolutely want to know that the person in the Oval Office will stand up and fight for them, and because McCain’s chin will be exposed when he bull-rushes Obama.

3.  Be Michael Coreleone and not Sonny or Fredo:  Obama can’t be like Sonny and go in swinging away without a real plan and he can’t be Fredo and not fight back. He needs to be Michael – smart and shrewd in taking on his opponent.

And being Michael in this debate – and campaign – means homing in on a character compare-and-contrast focused on “who do you trust to make the right economic decisions for you and your family.”

Trust on the economy is where Obama wins when he counter punches – it is the cut above McCain’s eye that he should just pound on at every opportunity (as Biden did in the VP debate).

4.  It is Oprah, not a Harvard vs. Yale debate:  The public watches these debates to get a sense of the character of the candidates. Voters are not scoring it like a Harvard versus Yale debate, but watch it the same way they would watch Oprah.

Given that it is a town-hall style debate involving direct interaction with the audience, the premium on connecting in terms of a candidate’s character is even higher than in a moderated debate.

Candidates have made mistakes in the past that badly hurt them – not just because of what they said – but how they looked. Bush Sr. at his watch; Nixon’s darting eyes; Gore sighs.

5.   You don’t have to win: Obama does not have to win in a conventional sense. He just has to avoid doing anything that changes the fundamentals of the campaign. Thus, don’t let a need to win the debate lead to Obama being “hot” or “out of character.”

(more…)

October 5, 2008

2nd Presidential Debate: Tom Brokaw Is A Blatant John McCain Supporter – Will He Be A Fair Debate Moderator?

 The second presidential debate is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 7 at 9PM EST/8PM CST.

The debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  The debate will be in the Town Hall format and questions will be taken from the audience and some from the internet. 

Participants in the town meeting will pose their questions to the candidates after reviewing their questions with the moderator for the sole purpose of avoiding duplication. The participants will be chosen by the Gallup Organization and will be undecided voters from the Nashville, Tennessee standard metropolitan statistical area. During the town meeting, the moderator has discretion to use questions submitted by Internet. 

The host will be Tom Brokaw of NBC who is a John McCain supporter. Mr. Brokaw has said that over the summer he had “advocated” within the executive suite of NBC News to modify the anchor duties of the MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on election night and on nights when there were presidential debates. Brokaw thought that Olbermann and Matthews used their time on air to engage in ‘commentary’. NBC said earlier this month that the two hosts would mostly relinquish their anchor duties to Mr. Gregory, while being present as analysts during debates and special election coverage.

Brokaw also said he has conducted some “shuttle diplomacy in recent weeks” between NBC and the McCain campaign.  His mission, he said, was to assure McCain’s aides that — despite some negative on-air commentary by Mr. Olbermann in particular — Mr. McCain could still get a fair shake from NBC News.

On the Sunday, September 28 edition of Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw moderated a debate between McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and Obama strategist David Axelrod on topics ranging from Iraq to the Wall Street bailout which Axelrod seemed to win. At the end, Tom Brokaw did something unusual, he opted to give himself the last word and told the audience:

“In fairness to everybody here, I’m just going to end on one note. And that is that we continue to poll on who’s best equipped to be Commander in Chief, and John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Gentlemen, thank you very much. “

In fact, the latest NBC poll actually has no question about Commander in Chief. It turns out that Brokaw was referring to a poll taken weeks ago – right after the Republican convention and well before the September 26 national security debate. In each of NBC’s last two polls, Americans chose Obama over McCain so Brokaw was being quite dishonest.

Brokaw is very blatant and bold with his support of McCain; can he be a fair moderator?

Also read:

https://letustalk.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/obama-slam-dunks-tom-brokaws-biased-questions/

 

 

Obama/Biden 2008!

 

 

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