Romney’s Debate Strategy

Ken AshfordElection 2012Leave a Comment

Mitt Romney's debate strategy, according to reporting from The New York Times:

Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August. His strategy includes luring the president into appearing smug or evasive about his responsibility for the economy. […]

During rehearsals, Mr. Romney has tried lines of attack suggesting that Mr. Obama distorts the facts and sloughs off responsibility on others. Mr. Romney’s aides recall Mr. Obama’s tart “you’re likable enough” line to Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and hope to goad him into a similarly churlish moment. Mr. Romney will win, the advisers said, if he can force Mr. Obama to come across as condescending or smug.

I suspect this is a head-fake.  I doubt he really is memorizing zingers to zing Obama with.  Sure, a memorable zinger can "win" a debate, but a badly executed obviously-preplanned one will just look awful, and if Romney were smart, he would avoid them.

What Romney should be working on is his demeanor.  The stiff smile, the faux "gosh-I'm-just-regular-folk" stance.  It's weird.  Demeanor, more than zingers, will have a huge effect on the debate outcome (anyone remember Gore's plaintive sighs, or Bush Senior's checking-of-the-watch?).

Either way, Wednesday is going to be fun.