Frenemies Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney facing off at Republican primary debate in Jacksonville, Florida on January 26, 2012.
While they may have sparred during the Republican primary debates, Newt Gingrich offered his former rival Mitt Romney free advice on debating President Obama. (Lucky Mitt!)
On Wednesday, exactly one week away from the first presidential debate, a column written by the former speaker of the House appeared on the conservative website Human Events:
Newt's tip #1: "Relax and be prepared"
"I tell the stories to make the point that too much debate preparation is cognitive, fact-filled, rational and focused on verbal game playing. The most important aspect of a debate is how you feel. Mike Deaver, the great media adviser to President Reagan, used to assert that television is 85 percent visual, 10 percent how you sound and 5 percent what you say. In every Presidential debate I participated in I always remembered Deaver’s rule. More important than what Romney knows is how he feels. Is he confident? Is he relaxed? Is he in command of himself? Can he stand up to both the media and the president? These body language issues are far more important than the specific things he says."
Newt's tip #2: "Be assertive and be on offense against both Obama and his media"
"You can be on offense without being offensive. The strongest reactions I got to my debates came from people who were desperate for someone to stand up to the media and redefine the questions and reframe the assumptions.Americans are sick and tired of the unending liberalism and suffocating groupthink of the elite media. If you look at my strongest applause lines virtually every one was taking on the media. It is inevitable the media will ask Romney about 'the 47 percent.' Instead of answering it, Romney should pivot and say, 'Let me tell you about the 100 percent. Obama has failed the 100 percent who have to buy gasoline. Obama has failed the 100 percent who will be paying interest on the Obama national debt for the rest of their lives. Obama has failed 100 percent of those who want to get a job and move on with their lives. Obama has failed everyone in the Middle East who had hoped the Arab Spring would lead to freedom by allowing it to turn into an Islamist winter.' The country would be electrified."
Newt's tip #3: "Be honest"
"There are things Romney has done wrong. Admit it. There are things he would like to do better. Admit it. People can smell dishonesty and disingenuous efforts to sell or hide."
Newt's tip #4: "Use humor"
"Reagan and Kennedy both had this wonderful knack of using humor to make points. President Obama is a detached, often stiff person who overestimates his competence (the next time you see a story on the Middle East remember he got a Nobel peace prize for having done nothing). No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama."
Newt's tip #5: "Enjoy the evening"
"My dad was a career infantryman in the Army. I have always enjoyed being a citizen because it is such a privilege to be an American. Mitt Romney ought to walk into that first debate as a remarkably fortunate man. God has given him a wonderful, loving wife, five great sons, wonderful daughters in law, loving grandchildren. His mother and father gave him a fabulous American upbringing. His Church has taught him faith and faithfulness and serving others. His hard work and intelligence have made him a wealthy man. Now he has a chance to share with the freest and most successful people in history. He should relax and bring to bear a lifetime of experience at decency, honesty, determination, applied intelligence and hard work. He will do just fine."
Gingrich loves him some debates. During the Republican primaries, he lamented the lack of old-fashioned debating in modern politics. If I had a nickel for every time he vowed to challenge Obama to a Lincoln-Douglas-style jam session…
The first debate focusing on domestic policy is slated for Wednesday, October 3.