Eight Lessons for the Presidential Debates
What are the key dos and don'ts the candidates should remember when campaigning for the White House?
- By Kenneth C. Davis
- Smithsonian.com, October 03, 2012
The corollary to the rule above is also a nod to Ronald Reagan’s skills. The “Great Communicator” knew how to cut deep with a simple line. Running against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980, Reagan phrased his famous question, “Are you better off now then you were four years ago?” When Reagan told voters to ask themselves that question in his closing remarks – which meant Carter was unable respond on the spot—it sealed the debate as a Reagan victory.
But if you ask the question, as they always tell trial lawyers, make sure you know the answer. It was easy for Reagan: Carter’s four years had been plagued by oil shocks worsened when the Shah fell and the Iran hostage crisis began, recession, and high interest rates intended to drive down inflation.