How to Debate Like a Presidential Frontrunner

In today’s Washington Examiner, DMG President Beverly Hallberg discusses why debates matter, the Trump factor, and how the participants in tonight’s Republican debate on Fox News can be remembered for all the right reasons:

“No, it isn’t about the length of airtime (120 minutes tonight for the main debate). It’s about the sound bites that circulate in the 24-hours news cycle and on social media tonight, tomorrow and (potentially) for years to come. Those 10-second clips are why debates, even primary debates, matter.”

Here’s what the candidates, including Trump, need to keep in mind if they want to be remembered for the right reasons this debate season. Read the full article here.

B²: Planned Parenthood

“Crush” is on repeat in the news cycle. This descriptive word alone is damning – but combined with the cavalier tone used to explain Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices? Well…that has placed pro-abortion advocates on the defensive.

On Sunday, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to justify their practices. She deflected questions and instead focused on claims that the videos were “heavily edited” and even said the filmmaker is “part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches.”

This type of diversion is common when someone is caught red handed. And it can easily trip you up by causing you to focus on how the videos originated instead of their content, which is the sticking point for most Americans – pro-life and pro-abortion alike.

So, how do you champion a winning narrative?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has repeatedly said the videos are “heavily edited,” so is this just another rightwing attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade?”

: “Though hard to watch, anyone who has seen the footage knows it speaks for itself. And most Americans, whether pro-life or pro-abortion, agree that <insert talking point>.”

Whether you focus on the ethical issues surrounding the selling of fetal tissue or the use of tax dollars to support it, stick to the content of the video. Getting into a debate about the legality of the videos (unless you are an attorney) or the likelihood of the right wing conspiracy’s involvement will get you nowhere…fast.

There is common ground – most Americans are deeply disturbed by what is taking place at Planned Parenthood – so lead with it.  If you do, you’ll find yourself a winning narrative.

B²: Iran and President Obama

The clock is ticking. As of yesterday, the Senate has 60 days to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal with Iran, or what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

With many democrats on the fence, republicans digging in their heels, 2016 around the corner, and veto threats from the President and Congress alike, we’re headed into the talking point version of the dog days of summer. No doubt reporters will try to drag you into the political theatre.

Do you know how to answer questions about the deal without making personal attacks against the President?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “The President said this is an “historic” deal and has called out his critics who think otherwise. Isn’t this deal better than no deal?”

: “Negotiating with Iran is without a doubt a tough job, but there are legitimate reasons why people, including those in the President’s own party, have raised concerns. Any deal with Iran should <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, it is always helpful to start with common ground. In this case, the common ground is found in acknowledging how difficult it must be to negotiate with Iran. Then, you turn to the concerns raised by such a deal. Remember: your case is made stronger if you can bring in people who normally side with the president. Last, bridge to your talking point that must include a solution. It isn’t enough to say why this is bad without offering what is best.

B²: Donald Trump

Donald Trump is enjoying a wildly successful ride post-presidential declaration. We’ll see if Governor Scott Walker’s entrance into the race will shake up the poll rankings, many of which have Trump in second place.

While there’s much discussion about the reasons for the rise of the “The Donald,” what isn’t in question is the media storm caused by his comments on immigration.

He went on record saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Though Trump is bringing an important issue to light, his chosen narrative is incendiary and will likely appear in any question you’re asked on immigration.

So how do you sidestep Trump while still offering solutions for a broken immigration system in desperate need of reform?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Does Donald Trump’s popularity prove that Americans believe most immigrants are rapists and drug dealers?”

: “Not at all. What it proves is that people care about immigration reform and want to fix what’s broken. We can start by fixing <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you go next, keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to talk about Donald Trump when talking about immigration – not if you want to offer real solutions to an ever-increasing problem. Trump’s comments distract from the policy in question and the people affected.

Instead of focusing on name-calling, which will get you nowhere close to affecting real change, focus on solutions that help all people – both American citizens and immigrants alike.

Why Presidential Announcements Matter

President of DMG Beverly Hallberg breaks down the modern day presidential announcement at The Daily Signal:

“Today’s presidential announcement involves a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. And if a candidate is going to stand out and capture America’s attention, there are three main areas where he/she needs to shine: setting, script, and social media.”

To read more, click here.

How Rand Paul’s media clashes could hurt him with women voters

President of DMG Beverly Hallberg says, “TV is about likability. And to the person who knows very little about Paul and was getting to know him for the first time, yesterday’s display made him seem pretty unlikable.”

To read more, visit The Daily Signal.

What Would Jesus do on MSNBC?

President of DMG, Beverly Hallberg, writes:

I’ve never said “What Would Jesus Do” in anything but jest but with Easter weekend upon us and religious liberty issues raging, I can’t think of a better time to ask “WWJD.”

Here are three lessons we can learn from the greatest communicator of all and how it translates to today. (Sorry Ronald Reagan fans, but Jesus has him beat.)

To read more, visit The Daily Signal.

A memorable SOTU response for all the right reasons

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, can take back the response. Read how in DMG president Beverly Hallberg’s op-ed in the

Vocals Matter: Howard Dean vs. Edward Snowden

In 2004, Howard Dean effectively ended his campaign for the democratic nomination when he gave the infamous “I have a scream” speech.

His campaign wasn’t over because of his platform.  He didn’t use words he shouldn’t have.  His campaign was over because of the way he used his voice.  That scream, which was replayed over and over, made him sound crazy.  Essentially, Howard Dean didn’t seem presidential.

Now, to Edward Snowden.  Whether a traitor or a hero, one thing is true – he was in control of his first U.S. TV interview.

He didn’t rush his words.  He didn’t raise his voice.  He calmly but strongly defended his actions.  His vocal delivery alone made him sound sane instead of crazy.

How you use your voice matters.

  • If you sound angry (and it isn’t for a good reason), people won’t like you.
  • If you sound defensive, people won’t trust you.
  • If you speak too quickly, people will think you’re nervous (and possibly have something to hide).

How you say something is just as important as what you say.  Don’t make the same mistake as Howard Dean.