Tomorrow is the first presidential debate in the competition of who will be the 45th president of the United States. The stage has been set, both candidates have been preparing for days with limited media appearances in order to focus on the job ahead. President Obama is staying at a secret room in Nevada to have mock debates starting at 9am and Mitt Romney has been practicing his ‘zingers’ on his interns for months.
Now like any great event, there are high expectations. The Huffington Post has Obama pulling ahead of Romney with a projected 332 electoral votes as opposed to Romney’s 191. Tomorrow’s debate on domestic policy gives Romney a chance to win back some of the swing-state-support he has lost. The Romney camp has put great emphasis on the candidate’s preparation for this debate. This is the opposite of the Obama camp that has tried to emphasize how busy Obama is, being the president and all. Although a known experienced debater, the campaign wants the public to see President Obama as the underdog in the debate, and rise above once again like four years ago. A spokesperson for Obama also mentioned that the president has no “zingers” prepared for tomorrow’s debate, a poke at Romney’s potentially quip-filled-rhetoric. The goal for the president tomorrow should be to continue the path he is currently on and not make any blunders during the debate. Considering the numbers, Romney has an uphill, but achievable battle. He needs to hammer in how poorly the economy is still doing and how unemployment is still higher than it has ever been. That is the topic the public wants to hear from Romney.
Preparation aside, there is an art to the rhetoric of debates. I thought a few tips for President Obama and Romney the night before their battle of wits might be just the thing. Here are some debating basics to remember while competing:
- Prepare: Study past debates-both wins and failures.
- Take notes on the wins and use those strategies
- Fit your argument and rebuttal to the time limit given
- 2 minutes for response,
- 6 domestic policy issues in 15 minutes each
- Do NOT go over the time
- Present an argument
- Prove your points with evidence
- If you cannot back something up, do not say it
- Do not ask rhetorical questions
- Do not make personal attacks (they’re tacky)
- Speech clearly, passionately, and slowly
- Follow your notes (you made them for a reason)
Both Obama and Romney are world-class debaters and I have no doubt tomorrow will be a showdown of intellectual brilliance…or a showdown of one-liners and “zingers”.
A debate coach analysis Obama and Romney’s style: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/02/opinion/graham-presidential-debate/index.html