There are a lot of expectations being set, and a lot of benchmarks being posited, and I’m not one to buck a trend, so I will post my own debate must-see moments. Or rather, must-have. The things, in other words, that I think we absolutely must see from the candidates tonight for them to be taken seriously any further.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO
We’ll start with the GOPe front-runner Marco Rubio. Rubio is not only a great candidate, he’s a great messenger. Long have republicans bemoaned our lack of a Great Communicator, someone who can tell the people that the things the party stands for are in everyone’s best interest, that our ideas when implemented result in the most widespread prosperity, freedom, and happiness that one can reasonably expect from an imperfect and fallen world.
Rubio is a great communicator. He can speak about Republican ideals in a way that sounds like something you would say at your kitchen table, but with the flair of what you might hear in a Reagan White House.
Too bad nobody is interested this election.
Rubio has to come out swinging tonight and be less Ronald Reagan and way more Newt Gingrich, with maybe a touch of Chris Christie. There’s a reason Jeb Bush is out, and it’s not just the pile of baggage he brings. Trump made him look like a chump at every debate save the last one. If he is to avoid that same fat, Marco has to look like a fighter.
And by the way, that means a prize fighter, not a slap fighter. If he and Ted scrap over immigration again they are both going to wear out their welcome.
So to summarize, Rubio needs to put a smack down on more than one person tonight, and the least of his targets should Ted. Ideally, it will be Kasich and Trump.
SEN. TED CRUZ
The “true conservative” is the label and mantle that Ted Cruz wants. But unlike Marco Rubio, he is not only not smooth, he can be downright off-putting if he doesn’t carefully manage his face and reactions. Especially the chuckle at himself after he says something that gets a great reaction. Ted has already proven he can fight. You won’t hear the other campaign bots admit it, but he has gone toe to toe with Trump over and over and is still going. Literally no other candidate can say that. And for all the moaning about the idiosyncracies of the Iowa Caucus, the fact is Ted won. And he did it after not bowing to ethanol.
That is a fighter. And that means he is delivering a message even as an imperfect messenger. It’s a message that, in my view, Americans want, and will only resound louder as more states vote. If he can deliver it.
Tonight Ted has to prove he can perfect his message. If Marco comes after him on amnesty again he has to be ‘above” it. He has to deal with it the way Newt Gingrich would. Sharp, smart, fast, and calm. Wait your turn. Over-talking has worked, now switch it out for patience. Not every time, but make a point of it when he does.
Fight the moderators, too. Dispute them, argue with their suppostions and their framing. But do answer the question that is asked, or at least attack it. Trump doesn’t like a question he just talks about something else. As in all other things, don’t be Trump.
To summarize, act like the front-runner. Ted is the only guy who has fought The Beast and lived. He should keep the swagger, drop the petty.
DR. BEN CARSON
Dr. Carson’s task tonight is simple. Prove there’s a reason for you to be in this race. Don’t joke about them giving you a chance to speak. You’ve been given plenty of chances at this point. It’s not a funny line anymore.
Wherever possible, you need to tie the topic you are being asked about to the topic of the future of Christianity. It’s your strongest topic and if you can make it an issue in the campaign then you haven’t wasted your time or your supporters money.
GOV. JOHN KASICH
Seriously, the only thing I would truly wish from you tonight is your withdrawal, but if I *had* to come up with some advice, I’d say you talk about your defunding of planned parenthood, why you did it, and why Trump’s argument about how they’re kind of OK is a load of crap.
Shut the *** up. That’s my advice. Just shut the **** up.
That’s what I want to see tonight. I’m no expert. I’m just a guy that knows how to type. But it’s what I hope to see.