by Cole Muzio
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
(Continued from part one here)
9. John Kasich: Sound like a conservative. The Governor of Ohio’s best case for the nomination is his title, however, there is no one in the race whose rhetoric or record is more hostile to conservatives. That said, he has seen a post-announcement bounce that should get him on the main stage. Still, if he hopes to have a real shot, at some point, he has to actually sound like a conservative. Touting your support for Medicare expansion, Common Core, and growing government may appeal to independents in a general election, but it won’t get you far with GOP viewers of the debates.
10. Chris Christie: Provide a rationale for his candidacy. Who would’ve thought, a year ago, that Chris Christie would struggle to make the main stage? Yet, here we are and many are wondering what space the New Jersey governor can occupy. His record against unions can’t match Walker’s, his Establishment appeal may be running fourth behind Bush, Rubio, and Kasich, and he’s not as in-your-face as Trump or perhaps even the Ohio governor. Running commercials against the Iran deal that leave something to be desired, Christie seems searching for a reason why he should be the Republican choice. He needs to provide that reason if he hopes to survive much longer.
11. Rick Perry: Stronger performance and the ability to count to three. Five years ago, the Texas governor entered the race as the conservative savior but fell quickly after abysmal debate performance that featured an inability to remember the three agencies of government he would cut. Perry’s record is solid, and he has the ability to win over a conservative crowd, but he needs to really put together strong debate performances before most will even give him a chance. If he doesn’t make the main event, he will really need to stand out or he may struggle to continue much longer.
12. Bobby Jindal: Be the smartest person on the stage. Jindal was a rising star, but he has seen that star fade fast. If he hopes to galvanize support for his presidential bid, he needs to embrace his strength — his intellect. Gingrich was able to use the debates to show off his wonkish command of policy, and Jindal has every capability to do the same. Not many like the know-it-all kid in the class, but being the smartest man on the stage is the only way for Jindal to elevate his fledgling candidacy to compete with the “big boys.”
13. Rick Santorum: Give us a reason to remember him. Not to be rude, but Santorum sounds like an idiot every time he reminds us that his current 2% in the polls is better than where he sat four years ago — before he won Iowa and a host of other states giving the nation a chance to learn who he was. The fact is that his problem now is not a name ID problem. He has so far proven to be a very forgettable candidate and that ’12 was a fluke where he benefited simply by being the last alternative to Romney. The former Pennsylvania Senator has to give us a reason to remember him following this debate or he will not see his numbers rise in a field that includes candidates like Huckabee, Carson, and Cruz who all occupy similar territory.
14. Carly Fiorina: Give the strongest critique of Hillary. I’m disappointed Fiorina will not be included because, so far, she has been the most able critic of Hillary Clinton in the Republican field. That said, the former HP CEO needs to have the capability on full display Thursday night if she hopes of making it to the bigger stage. As the only female and someone who has proven a capable — albeit inexperienced – candidate, Fiorina should be able to carve out a space for herself, but she needs a strong performance to do it.
15. Lindsey Graham: Let us know why he’s in the race. Why is Lindsey Graham running? The best guess most have is that he thought Paul would be a stronger candidate than he has turned out to be, and Graham wanted to hold his Senate colleague accountable on foreign policy. He can’t think he’s got a shot, right? When such questions abound, money and support don’t tend to come your way. The South Carolina Senator needs to find an answer to why he’s running and how he can win … and quick.
16. George Pataki and Jim Gilmore: Tell us why we should care. Pataki and Gilmore give the vibe that they really missed having anyone care about them so they decided to run for president. Unfortunately for them, no one cares why they are running for president. Unless either one of them really, and I mean really, stand out on the second tier stage, they may not even get invited to such events in the future.
Cole Muzio is the owner and President of Concentric Direct LLC, a political and communications strategies firm based out of NE Ohio. A former strategist for Dave Brat and a host of other campaigns, Muzio has coached numerous candidates preparing for debates and specializes in campaign messaging.