Newt Gingrich, who was once Mitt Romney's chief rival during the Republican primaries, is offering the Republican nominee free advice before he debates President Barack Obama next week.
Writing in Human Events on Wednesday, Gingrich relayed four suggestions for the upcoming debates:
Newt's advice: Relax and be prepared
I tell the stories to make the point that too much debate preparation is cognitive, fact-filled, rational and focused on verbal game playing.
The most important aspect of a debate is how you feel.
Mike Deaver, the great media adviser to President Reagan, used to assert that television is 85 percent visual, 10 percent how you sound and 5 percent what you say.
In every Presidential debate I participated in I always remembered Deaver's rule.
More important than what Romney knows is how he feels.
Is he confident?
Is he relaxed?
Is he in command of himself?
Can he stand up to both the media and the president?
These body language issues are far more important than the specific things he says.
Be assertive and be on offense against both Obama and his media
You can be on offense without being offensive.
The strongest reactions I got to my debates came from people who were desperate for someone to stand up to the media and redefine the questions and reframe the assumptions.
Americans are sick and tired of the unending liberalism and suffocating groupthink of the elite media.
If you look at my strongest applause lines virtually every one was taking on the media.
It is inevitable the media will ask Romney about "the 47 percent." Instead of answering it, Romney should pivot and say, "Let me tell you about the 100 percent. Obama has failed the 100 percent who have to buy gasoline. Obama has failed the 100 percent who will be paying interest on the Obama national debt for the rest of their lives. Obama has failed 100 percent of those who want to get a job and move on with their lives. Obama has failed everyone in the Middle East who had hoped the Arab Spring would lead to freedom by allowing it to turn into an Islamist winter."
The country would be electrified.
There are things Romney has done wrong.
There are things he would like to do better.
People can smell dishonesty and disingenuous efforts to sell or hide.
Reagan and Kennedy both had this wonderful knack of using humor to make points.
President Obama is a detached, often stiff person who overestimates his competence (the next time you see a story on the Middle East remember he got a Nobel Peace Prize for having done nothing).
No president in my lifetime has been as vulnerable to humor as President Obama.
Gingrich relishes political debates. Before he dropped his bid for the White House last spring, he vowed to challenge Obama to seven, three-hour debates in the Lincoln-Douglas style if nominated. (The style is reminiscent of contests between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during the 1858 Senate campaign. The debates have no moderator, a schedule of opening statements, cross-examinations and rebuttals as well as in-depth talks on a specific theme.)
Gingrich said in an interview with Yahoo News that Obama would have given in, too.
"I think I would have nagged him pretty ferociously," Gingrich said.