Grading the GOP candidates’ performance not in regard to policy, but as to how well they communicated their message and how they might have clarity going forward. (Reagan Library, September 7, 2011, msnbc) (going stage left to right).
Huntsman D- Polished to the point of coming across as a bit cheesy. Seemed like a plastic person, which he is not. No real clarity of plan given, and seemed to never drop below 100,000 feet
Way forward: Communicate clear middle of the road plans (3 or less) that sets yourself as more the moderate of choice than Romney who is leaning right for primary votes. Dangerous, but makes you more general election and moderate=independent friendly. This positioning clearly sets you apart.
Cain A Best communicator of the night. His clear plan statements are pointed, sharp, and memorable (ex 9-9-9 plan).
Way forward: Get more message time and communicate how you have real world executive experience, just not in the bog of government. Build off his “How’s that working for you?” line from the last debate. Continue to eschew typical political language and keep driving to solution based answers.
Paul C- Too philosophical for his own good. Suffers from being offered minimal time in debates, thus, he tries to squeeze too much into each answer. Bumbles. Needs to move philosophy (as important as it is) to the background and present the solutions which lie on top of his libertarian philosophy more clearly.
Way forward: More pointed answers with less philosophy unless you wants to become a Presidential advisor instead of President. Those long answers might have worked in decades past, but not in a Twitter world. Only one message per answer.
Perry B++ (Almost A-) Loves the role of being the contrarian. Stood by some bold statements such as Social Security being a ponzi scheme . Took some right crosses from others without totally evading them. Lots of Texas colloquialisms. Communication that had hard right draw.
Way forward: Continue to be the contrarian and yet the front runner (a difficult tightrope to walk). Make sure you continue to communicate that you are the more conservative and practical of the bunch. As you bring up your record in Texas (and you should), figure out how to block and not become a punching bag regarding the under-insured, low graduate rate, and other Texas statistics that his ‘opponents’ are using. Shore up your answers to the the latter questions as you were not nearly as pointed then.)
Romney A- Polished, poised and stately. His answers are controlled but passionate. Stayed on message and appeared Presidential in tone.
Way forward: You are seen as the most Presidential. Throw enough ammunition at Perry to stay even, but present how you are the most viable candidate to beat Obama in the general election. Though people vote on more conservative and liberal ends of the spectrum in primaries, no one wants to throw their vote away. Emphasize how you have the ability to beat the incumbent, work with both sides of the aisle in congress, and how Perry will have more difficulty with this with his ‘divisive’ Ponzi scheme language.
Bachmann B- Generally well spoken. Didn’t get nearly the time she thought, nothing that set herself apart but did no self-harm either. Unfortunately for her, Perry seems to have stolen her Tea Party wind, dropping her into the background.
Way forward: If you want to climb back up the mountain, you must throw caution to the wind regarding the general election and show why she is way more Tea Party than Perry. You are running out of time and beginning to fade, otherwise. Do this by showing where Perry’s policies are incongruent with Tea Party values, but do not forget to clearly present your future policies that identify you most with the GOP conservative base.
Newt B Newt is Newt. This night he was the oil in the Republican cogs stating that the media isn’t going to breed GOP infighting. He applauded many of his fellow candidates efforts and views. It was almost as if the Republican party paid him to be there to keep the message clear that the opponent is Obama, not other GOP members.
Way forward: You are currently perceived as brilliantly smart and more of an author and wise news pundit than Presidential material. Narrow your message points and though you have one million ideas running through your brain at all times, pick three and stick with them. Set yourself as the elder political statesman of the bunch who has been through the most storms and brought solutions that can actually work in a bi-partisan America.
Santorum B Consistent answers, but like Bachman did nothing that set himself apart. His best moment might have been when he spoke of welfare reform being about helping the poor versus saving money.
Way forward: You best communicate your social conservatism and compassion for people. Punch these up much higher on the frequency meter.
Thoughts or disagreements?