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By Jamie Miller
If money is the “mother’s milk to politics,” media is the “oxygen.”
So far in the Republican presidential primary, former President Donald Trump has unlimited amounts of oxygen, Gov. Ron DeSantis has had the second most, and everyone else is gasping for air, but may break out with the upcoming debate.
All campaigns are not created equal. Each is given, earns or buys media.
There is much chatter, of course, about whether Donald Trump will attend the debate. I could argue either side of the coin, and I’m sure his team is having this debate. I believe he should join the debate, but I don’t believe he will.
I believe the former president should join the debate because, if he doesn’t, he will lose some control of the debate and allow someone to be the “winner” which will give that candidate oxygen.
The reason he may not join the debate is that he is convinced that the media and other candidates will shadow box him. In this scenario, the first question of the debate to all candidates goes something like, “Do you think Donald Trump should be on stage?” By the time they all answer, half the debate is over, and Mr. Trump wins the debate without attending. It’s a risky play, but a play that I’m sure his team is considering seriously.
If those candidates on stage decide to use their oxygen discussing the former president’s presence or absence, I believe they will be seen as losers.
If he is on stage, I think it’s fine to have a few canned lines to zing the former president about his indictments, bullying, using the office for retribution, age, etc., but they all need to be prepared to utilize their oxygen on their winning message. What have they done that resonates with GOP primary voters? What do they plan to do? And, how will they get it done, with or without GOP majorities in the U.S. House and Senate?
I always say that, as a political consultant, I can’t change who candidates are or what they believe. My job is to take what candidates want to say and create a message that resounds with voters who the campaign is targeting. There are a lot of internal and external forces in a campaign that fight this simple concept.
All candidates on stage should be preparing to implement that strategy. If they don’t, their campaigns will suffocate.
See a recent OnThePoint radio/podcast interview with Jamie Miller here.
Jamie Miller is a three-decade veteran of Florida politics and has worked on local, state and national races. He is a former executive director for the Republican Party of Florida and has managed, consulted or served as a senior advisor to five statewide campaigns including serving as the florida director of a presidential campaign. Jamie has been quoted in most daily papers in the U.S. and has appeared on many live TV and radio shows including TMZ Live, Radio Free Russia, and local networks.