Here are 10 things Democratic presidential candidates should avoid saying Jan. 14 in the year’s first debate:
10. — “Everyone on the stage tonight would be a better president than Donald Trump.”
That crowd-pleaser is usually said by a candidate who has been attacked and doesn’t have a good answer. Let’s stipulate that a potted geranium would be a better president than Trump and move on.
9. — “Just this morning/yesterday/last week, I met a woman/man/child, who was worried about healthcare/employment/student loan debt…”
First-person anecdotes, which proved so useful in previous campaigns, now seem tired and predictable. Maybe that’s because social media provides so much tonnage about what average folks have on their minds. Or, perhaps it’s that every candidate has a such a stock of these tales that they all cancel out, as does…
8. — “My parents were immigrants and dad had to work long hours at the mine/factory/gas station to put food on our table.”
Here’s the deal: After Americans elected a billionaire reality-TV performer whose father gifted him a fortune, the humble roots thing lost much of its value.
7. — “Here’s the deal.”
6. — “By fighting among ourselves we’re playing into the hands of Republicans.”
Whenever two or more candidates tussle, another will invariably step in to say it’s exactly what Trump and his enablers want. Maybe. But Democrats need to pick a nominee who can be tough and win an argument. The time for unity comes after the convention.
5. — “I have a plan.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren leads the field in planning. A close second is Sen. Amy Klobuchar who published 100 plans for her first 100 days in office. Alas, voters have pretty much figured out that, (a) every candidate has a team of planners, (b) most plans will be forgotten/voted-down/ignored after the inauguration and © the only plan Democrats should worry about is one that sends Trump on a permanent golf vacation.
4. — “It’s unfortunate that Kamala Harris and Julian Castro had to abandon their campaigns.”
Come on. Harris and Castro are among several early casualties who simply couldn’t connect with enough voters or donors. That’s how primaries work. Remaining Democrats should cut the crocodile tears and stop pretending that what the race needs is an even bigger clog of also-rans.
3. — “I’ll answer that, but first I have to go back to…”
No! If you’re in a debate, follow the rules and answer the question. Voters are exhausted by debates in which candidates dodge questions and push talking points on other topics.
2. — “Go to blahblahblah.com.”
When did plugging a website become the requisite closer in debates? Probably when the DNC decided that fundraising would be a way to qualify. Still, there’s something undignified about the dot-com pitch. Maybe just, “As much as I’d welcome your money, what I really want is your vote.”
1. — “Wine cave.”
Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. A list of his upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.
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