B²: Do Muslims hate America?

Say what you will about Marco Rubio’s campaign for the White House or recent debate strategy, but his response to Donald Trump’s fumble on the Muslim question in last week’s GOP debate is a study in EXACTLY what to do.

The exchange looked a lot like this:

Jake Tapper asked Trump if he wanted to clarify a statement he made to Anderson Cooper only the night before: “Islam hates us.”  In true Trump fashion, he recycled a few of his favorite words (like “tremendous”) and stuck by his generalization.

Rubio realized the gaffe and used it to his advantage by first establishing common ground with Trump and then pivoting to his argument that Muslims are people too.

Well done.

This simple formula results in communications gold every time but first involves preparation and practice. Do you know how to tackle these tricky questions and then block and bridge to your talking points? Hint: common ground is your best friend.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Do you think Donald Trump is right? Do Muslims hate America?”

Rubio’s B²: “Let me say, I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is presidents can’t just say anything they want. It has consequences here and around the world… There’s no doubt that radical Islam is a danger in the world. <Insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, remember that Trump can say what he wants and suffer zero consequences. Everyone else has to play by the rules, including you. Rubio’s response to Trump’s generalization is a case study in what to do, no matter the topic – start with common ground and then pivot to your talking points. Common ground softens the blow and makes you seem reasonable. And reasonable is exactly what you want to be to cut through the noise that is this election season.