While Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain all attacked each other at the GOP Debate on CNN, Newt Gingrich was the one who emerged as the most presidential with his non-attack tactics.
I was surprised that Romney and Perry did not put on the boxing gloves and go at it. Newt Gingrich was the ONLY candidate, in my opinion, who answered the questions about what HE would do. The others, well, they discussed what the OTHER guy would do and why their tactics were WRONG.
As Romney attacked and accused Perry of taking up his time– Newt Gingrich spoke about solutions and policy. As Perry accused Romney of hiring illegal immigrants to do his landscaping–Newt Gingrich spoke about solutions and policy.
As Romney is putting Perry attack ads on his campaign web site, Newt Gingrich puts up his answers to the debate questions, which were about solutions and policy.
To win a debate a candidate must seize the rhetorical situation and persuade the electorate that he/she can rise above the ad hominem attacks. Both, Perry and Romney created such groundless and illogical arguments about each other the audience stopped listening to them. In fact, I found Romney as the bully of the group. Do we want a bully for president? The other candidates, especially Romney, can learn from Newt Gingrich’s composure to not stoop to argue such logical fallacies.
Romeny’s over aggressive rhetorical technique backfired. He led other candidates into the spotlight because Romney wants to be president so bad that his over aggressive stance is actually turning away potential voters and supporters.
Notice in the video above, Perry accuses Romney of hiring illegal immigrants to do his landscaping. Then Romney puts his hand on Perry’s shoulder. As the two bicker, Romney then attacks Perry’s debate performances. Nowhere in this exchange does the audience learn what these two would do as president.
Social Media Performance
Newt Gingrich did well during the debate, but not so much in the social media realm. His presence is not very dominant.
When Romney was neither confirming nor denying any claims thrown at him by his opponents or yelling at someone for taking up his time–Perry’s team was tweeting Romney’s deleted lines from Romney’s book or proof about Romney’s illegal immigrants employees. Where was Mitt Romney’s support? I do not know.
I did see this tweet from Mitt Romney before the debate, but I find that it’s ineffective. I’m not going to follow 20 people (ok, I exaggerated, it’s 7). I want to follow the official campaign team to gain more information about Romney’s policies.
I started following @TeamRomney in addition to @MittRomney, but still no tweets during the debate.
Since Newt Gingrich has over 1 million followers compared to Romney’s 143,000 followers, he should use Twitter to his advantage. His campaign could tweet out more information about Gingrich’s answers. For example, while Romney accused Gingrich for supporting a foundation, Gingrich’s team could have tweeted that since Gingrich did support the foundation he may not have supported all the decisions made by the foundation. But, as we all know Romney is filled with ad hominem attacks on all his opponents whether his claims are false or not. At least Gingrich called Mitt Romney out on his Pinocchio moment.
Overall, Newt Gingrich took advantage of the rhetorical situation on Tuesday night by becoming the voice of reason while his opponents bickered. I hope that the candidates in the next debate start talking policy and solutions rather than the character flaws of their opponent. In fact, I think it would be nice if Romney took the advice he gave his opponent Rick Perry and not get testy.