Handicapping The Debate

By Dick Morris on August 4, 2015

Here’s what each candidate has to do in Thursday’s Republican debate:

Trump

Trump continues to speak with originality and force. Don’t pull any punches. But don’t pick fights either. Don’t let them see you as a bully. Handle the social issues so the right stays with you but don’t make them your central theme. Don’t give an inch!

Bush

Prove that you are a Republican and not some Boehner and McConnell imitation. Show that electing you will make a difference and that you are not just more of the same Washington establishment. (Even though you are).

Walker

Make voters understand how your education reforms are critical to taking the women vote away from the Democrats and forcing them to choose between their donors and their voters. Women understand that as long as the unions are in charge, schools won’t improve. And you cut the unions down to size. Emphasize that you won election, a recall, and re-election in one of the bluest of blue states and that you know how to win swing voters.

Cruz

You have the most consistently conservative record of all the candidates. Make it clear that if you win, we will win. We won’t have to settle for half solutions and giveaways as we had to under both Bushes. It will be Reagan time.

Rubio

Show some teeth, tiger. Get rid of the timid, wishy-washy demeanor. No more gulps of water. No more telling us your biography. Show your stuff and prove you are worth electing.

Paul

Show how your libertarian philosophy is the real difference among he candidates. Don’t hesitate to lay out your program and underscore how it differs from the conventional right. But…also tell us what you’d do about Iran and ISIS and terrorism.

Huckabee

Break out of the evangelical ghetto and show the difference between the likes of Bush — a country club Republican and you –a rotary club Republican. Make the case for economic populism in a way that those born with silver spoons cannot do but you can.

Kasich

We get it that you are from Ohio and that we need Ohio to win. But tell us more. When you accepted Medicaid expansion, we got worried about your opposition to ObamaCare. Tell us where you stand.

Carson

We wouldn’t trust a surgeon who had never operated before to perform brain surgery. Tell us why we should entrust you with the task of stopping Hillary Clinton. Is their fire behind your mild demeanor? Can you handle yourself with the big boys?

Christie

The problem Christie faces in this race is he must sustain his ongoing relevance in the face if its erosion by three candidates – Trump, Walker, and Bush. Trump is stealing Christie’s thunder by being a more outspoken advocate of truth with his boldness. Bush is stealing Christie’s thunder by being more of a mainstream GOP candidate than a Tea Party candidate. Walker is stealing Christie’s thunder as a good governor by fighting the unions and preserving Republican values. Christie must beat these candidates at their own game to emerge as a strong contender. He also needs to live down his virtual endorsement of President Obama just before the last election.

Let’s see how they do.

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