‘Punch, pivot and be appealing’: Expert’s guide for candidates in Trump-less debate

Eight Republican candidates are preparing for the first GOP debate of the 2024 presidential election without former President Donald Trump participating, leading to a discussion on debate strategies.

Debate strategy overview: Alice Stewart, a seasoned Republican communications strategist, offers advice on how candidates can approach the debate in Trump’s absence.
* Stewart suggests the “punch, pivot, and be appealing” method where candidates should challenge Trump on relevant issues, quickly pivot back to their messages, and aim to be likable and appealing to voters.
* Candidates are expected to use the debate to introduce themselves to voters across the country, highlighting their backgrounds, records, and resolutions to lead the nation.

Addressing Trump: Candidates face the challenge of handling the questions and references related to Trump, an indicted front-runner who’s not present.
* Stewart advises candidates to discuss Trump’s losses in his reelection, the Senate, and key House races, portraying his strategy as unsuccessful for a general election electorate.
* On the other hand, candidates are expected to balance their criticism with recognition of Trump’s broad-based support in the Republican Party and his successes in office.

The Catch: There is caution among the candidates about pushing back against Trump too much due to a segment of Republicans who see his indictments as politicized.
* Candidates understand that they need to cater to these voters’ mindset to sustain their interest, even if they don’t personally agree with it.

Debate purpose underlined: Despite Trump’s absence, the debate isn’t considered futile.
* The debate serves as an opportunity for candidates to distinguish themselves, helping to narrow the field down to a top two or three.

View original article on NPR

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