It is generally agreed that Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate against his opponent Barack Obama. As the second presidential debate looms, we thought Obama might appreciate some help in upping his game. Here are 8 tips from an imagined Romney Debate Playbook.
1. Go light on the details.
Speak in generalities; don’t give your opponent the opportunity to trip you up on the specifics. After all, if you spell out the particulars, people might find out what you really think.
2. Deny past statements.
So what if you said something yesterday that you’ve decided you don’t mean today. Bygones! Not too long ago Mitt was pro-choice but now he’s against abortion regardless of circumstance. Oh wait! Now he’s saying he isn’t trying to legislate abortion. To describe his change of view, he uses words like “grown” and “evolved.” However, make sure you use the word “evolution” only in a personal context — whatever you do, don’t mention it with regard to that theory of species progression or anything that contradicts Creationism. In fact, assert that you’re creation-ing yourself as you go along!
3. Don’t let facts get in the way of a good line.
Facts — and fact-checkers — are pesky little things that can pin a candidate down. Telling the truth? That’s a strategy for losers!
4. Claim your opponent is doing what in fact you do.
This psychological ploy has been used to great effect by everyone from cheating spouses to cornered politicians. It’s called “projection.” Running around on your wife? Accuse her of infidelity first! Stirring up class anger and resentment? Say that’s what Obama is doing. It’s the Republican way!
5. Be multiple choice.
Don’t take a stand on an issue — you might alienate people who support a different position. Mitt has turned flip-flopping into an art form; he employed this tactic when pressed on his plan to slash taxes for the wealthy and his true feelings about the “47%.” When he is about to get caught in an outright lie, he beats a hasty and strategic retreat into “I can’t remember” land.
6. Tell people what they want to hear.
Who needs bad news, even when it’s true? Don’t bring people down with talk about austerity and sacrifice. Paint a pretty picture. And if your opponent brings up any harsh realities, do like Mitt and just say it ain’t so! Then accuse him or her of “not believing in America.” Works every time.
7. Bully the moderator.
Don’t be a slave to the clock! If you run out of time, well, just keep going — that’s what Mitt does. His long history as a bully (from cutting a gay classmate’s hair to pet abuse to large-scale layoffs) has taught him how to roll over just about anybody. But be sure to get all righteously indignant if your opponent tries to finish a sentence after the bell has rung.
8. Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile. SMILE.
Don’t forget to smile. All the time. No matter what the topic of debate. A smile says, Hey, look at me — I’m the man! A smirk is okay. A smirk, especially when your opponent is talking, says, Can you believe that guy? But a thoughtful, even pensive expression might suggest that you’re contemplating the nuance of an issue — what a concept! There are no nuances in Mitt’s Playbook — there’s only his firm and committed position du jour. Blind the people with a dazzling smile and they might forget to look for what you’re hiding.
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