10 Take-Aways from the First Republican Debate: Why I Sent Chris Christie $5

As a communication coach my passion is to comment on public displays of communication. The key word is communication. My observations are not about policy or party. My comments are about the verbal, vocal, and visual.

  1. One of the criteria for candidates to get on the stage was 40,000 donors. I wanted to see Chris Christie on the stage so I sent his campaign $5. I wanted his clarity on that stage so for the second time in my life I sent a Republican $. I would say I got half of my money’s worth. It wasn’t Christie’s best night. “Vivek” was a different kind of punching bag and Christie struggled landing a punch.
  2. “Vivek” got under Pence’s skin. The effect seemed to be an energized Pence. Energy is hugely important in a campaign and in life. Can Pence maintain this level of energy without Viviek?
  3. One of my 50 rules of communication is to find your own voice, not someone else’s.  Nikki Haley appeared to find her own voice on abortion and Ukraine. Her verbal, vocal and visual was strongest  when sparring with guess who – Vivek Her flip flops have hurt her credibility. . Can she maintain that level of consistency? She should have gained points, probably not enough.
  4. Asa Hutchinson seems like an honorable man. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be bonus points for “honor” in a campaign these days. Doug Burgum has a great back story. Not a lot of air in the room or campaign for nice guys and their boot strap stories.
  5. When a moderator asked candidates for a hand vote if they would support a convicted felon, Ron DeSantis had to look to his right and left to see how the others were voting. That is not leadership. That visual of the Florida gator assessing others before his vote is seared into my memory. Like a 3rd grade kid checking their neighbor’s answer.6.
  6. Vivek mugged for the camera, smugged his way through conspiracy answers and catered to the largely MAGA audience. By far he is faster on his feet than anyone else on stage. He has a unique ability to position all criticism as a springboard for his next takedown. Whatever is said to him, from Haley, Pence or Christie, he will make into a positive. A great skill on stage, doesn’t help one govern.
  7. Especially when Pence and Vivek were sparring, it was clearly a generational choice. I don’t want a surgeon with no experience operating on humans. Many voters don’t see experience as a value, watch Vivek as proof. Pence may appear as the adult in the room or the grandpa yelling, get off my yard.
  8. Whether you support the former president or not, you should be able to recognize his lack of empathy for others. DeSantis is a close second. He tried to tell a story about a woman he had met on the campaign trail. He didn’t hide the art. You just knew his staff told him, you have to tell one story. He couldn’t tell it with empathy. One’s voice, tone and visual have to match to be seen as empathetic.
  9. DeSantis avoided not only incoming missiles, stood and watched others get the spotlight. Making yourself smaller is never the answer. The art is to find the spotlight without hogging it.
  10. Being moderator of anything, should be harder than it looks. If it is too easy, you aren’t doing it correctly. At one point moderator Bret Baier had to turn and admonish and instruct the audience to be quiet. No one likes to be the playground cop, but someone has to step up.

To me being boring is the biggest sin in any form of entertainment. The choice was made to go almost an hour before asking the candidate’s any question about the former president. The result was a yawn. #debate #christie #haley

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