Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gingrich’s debating skills are overrated...

Brad Phillips, the president of Phillips Media Relations and author of the Mr. Media Training blog, thinks Gingrich’s style won’t play when he’s trying to sell general-election voters on his candidacy — and nowhere will that be more evident than in the debates.
“Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, the sunnier and more optimistic candidate has won all eight general elections,” Phillips points out.
Indeed, the list of losers is littered with the gloomy and doomy — Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, George H.W. Bush in 1992, Al Gore, John Kerry and John McCain.
Gingrich errs on the side of the irascible; indeed, Sabato notes, one voter left the polling booth in South Carolina saying, “I think we need somebody mean.”
That’s not to say that Gingrich is a mean or bad person. It’s just that he tends to be rhetorically confrontational. It’s a style that plays well if you agree with him, but runs the risk of alienating undecided voters.
Now, to be sure, Gingrich isn’t basing his entire campaign on the prospect of winning debates against Obama. He frequently talks of “big issues” requiring “big solutions” that are anything but the fluff that usually dominates debates. 
But, more than any other candidate in modern history, he’s wooed Republicans through the hope of making Obama sweat on the stage. 
Should Republicans sweat that promise?
Heinze, the founder of, is a member of staff at The Hill