Electric Impulse Communications, Inc. Newsletter

October 2004

  1. Leslie's Debate Watching Tips
  2. Live and On TV

I. Leslie's Debate Watching Tips  

I used to say that if I was King for a Day-or Queen-I would require
every man, woman, and child to watch the presidential debates. This
year, I'm afraid they might put us to sleep! Why?

32 pages of RULES!

RULES on where cameras can be pointed and how close the two candidates can stand. RULES, RULES, RULES. So much for the unexpected:
like Benson's Kennedy line,
Nixon's sweat,
Reagan's line to Mondale about youth.

Even Fox is saying that they are not going to follow these RULES.
So many rules that perhaps we will watch the RULES rather than the

The more entertaining exchange may have been Wednesday night when Gore and Dole answered questioned from a college audience.
With nothing at stake for the speakers, it was not overprepared, overstaged, or overpracticed. It was engaging, informative, and funny.

The question is: how do we practice our most important presentations
and at the same time be light on our feet?

A quick review of the results past debates have provided:

1. Those that listened to the Kennedy-Nixon debate thought Nixon won. Those that watched it thought JFK won. The power of the visual.
2. Only three times in history, twice in the last 30 years, has the shorter candidate won the election. In the world of TV, it is more difficult to know who is shorter unless candidates stand next to each other.
3. Ford's now famous line regarding NO Soviet occupation in Europe. In one line he erased his advantage as an incumbent.
4. Dukakis's lack of compassion in the rape question.
5. Bush 41 looking at his watch as though he was bored and we were keeping him from his favorite TV show.

Amidst these RULES, results to look for:
 Pundits say Bush can lose the debate and win the election. Kerry has to win
this debate to win the election. Watch and let me know, who do you think won?
1. Look for the One Line.
Reagan did it, Benson did it, Dukakis did not do it. Reagan told Mondale he would not hold his youth against him, Benson told Quayle that he knew John Kennedy and Quayle was not John Kennedy. Dukakis did not answer well the now infamous wife/rape question.
Best case scenario: the debate will give us one famous line that will go down in history.
Who will say it and what will it be?

2. We Love the Underdog.
America loves an underdog-but who is he?
Which candidate is the underdog?
Traditionally the incumbent would be the one to beat. But the president has successfully positioned himself as a better president, but a worse debater. So who is the underdog? The White House has successfully portrayed the president as a guy who has never lost an important debate, while at the same time warning us to expect him to mispronounce a word or two. Kerry should be the underdog, but much has been made of both his debating skills and his ability to accelerate his campaign skills in the final weeks. So who is the underdog and will we love him?

3. Who will stray first?
Amidst the 32 pages of debate rules, is a rule that states that the candidates are NOT to leave the podium. Can they come around the side of the podium while not straying? The podium places a barrier between the speaker and the audience. Usually, both candidates are eager to figuratively walk through that barrier. Who will move from the podium first and will it benefit them?

4. Control the Environment
The last campaign's first debate was marked by Al Gore's facial response while Bush was speaking. It's not a matter of right or wrong, the point is that people were talking about the grimace rather than the substance. When Bush 41 debated Clinton, people talked about Bush looking at his watch rather than talking about substance. So included in the 32 pages of rules, is the rule that says cameras must be on the candidate speaking ONLY.
Is the environment now too controlled?
Do you WANT to see how the other candidate reacts?
Will Fox and others follow this rule?

5. They Can't Play Nice Together
Rule #225 says that the candidates cannot address each other. Is this a debate or a joint interview? If you were debating someone of an opposite view, would you want to question your opponent directly?
This point begs a bigger question of this debate:
What do we want in a candidate?
Ken Duberstein, advisor to the president, believes Americans want
to like our president.
Do we want to feel warm and fuzzy about a candidate?
Is this truly the ultimate nice guy contest?

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II. Live and On TV

A.  Cable TV Time/Warner Civic Forum of the Air Channel 24

Inside Look at a Presidential Campaign: Bush v Kerry
Week of Monday, October 11
Sunday 6:00 pm, Sunday 9:00 am                                

B.  In Person

* HBA University --Homebuilder's on White Pond
  November 4      8:30-11:45
  Stand Out Service: Turn Defining Moments into Defining Value


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