As Mitt Romney gets ready to take the stage in Denver tonight for his first presidential debate with President Obama, every pundit under the sun is chock full of advice. But here are the only lines of analysis he needs to read: To win the evening and change the trajectory of the race, Romney MUST be aggressive and knock the president down a peg or two.
For the last four years, the base has been clamoring for someone to stand up to Obama and FORCEFULLY (not passively and tactical) call him out on all his false promises and hypocrisy. They want him exposed but they don’t want Romney to do it in a clinical, methodical way. They want him to point out the facts with gusto, passion. In short, they want him to be something he’s not: a flamethrower.
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The mainstream media pundits will probably say the exact opposite. They will argue that Independents will be turned off if Romney trots out too much red meat for the base. I wholeheartedly disagree. Let’s remember that this is a “base election.” In other words, Romney needs the base to show up in droves. He can’t just have a normal regular base turnout. That’s not going to do it. Not against a very competent Obama campaign.
Therefore, he needs what I am now calling a “Doritos Moment.” He needs a moment tonight that will energize people who might otherwise sit on the sidelines and not vote but instead will hear Mitt Romney tonight, put down the Doritos chips, get off the couch and actually vote on Election Day.
You have to remember that there are millions of voters within the ‘conservative base” who might not like President Obama’s policies but just don’t show up to vote. You need to get them off the couch.
The danger for Romney will be that he might listen too much to mainstream media pundits. He may think he needs to be so calm and presidential sounding so as not to turn off more moderate Independent voters who are thinking of voting for him but I think that would be a mistake. His goal tonight is to increase base turnout rather than play to the middle.
Guess what? There are folks who are in the middle (Reagan Democrats) who are none too happy with President Obama’s policies, too. If Romney brings up cultural issues that will play well with that crowd. If he does all that, we will see a fired up Romney rather than a safe, boring one.
Remember, there is a great passion out there in conservative circles to replace this president. Romney has to match that passion to not just get the normal folks in the base out to the polls (that’s already a done deal) but rather expand the base.