Video posts edited together of town hall debates most memorable moments are surfacing all over the web. One could watch past Presidential town hall debates on Fox, NBC, CBS, Mother Jones, Washington Post, C-Span and probably other sources not mentioned here. It seems every news outlet is replaying some favorite sound bites of the past to analyze what worked and what did not work. From body language specialist like Janine Driver on CNN with Anderson Cooper, to one of the more interesting heated expert panel discussions, which took place this past Sunday, October 14th on NBC’s Meet The Press.
The town hall debates originated in 1992 by Bill Clinton who did very well compared to George H. Bush. From looking down at his watch, to answering a question on how did national debt personally effect his life- George H. Bush answered with “Are you suggesting that if someone has means, that the national debt doesn’t affect them? Help me with the question then I’ll answer it.”
Clinton answered the same question by opening with, “Well, I have been governor of a small state for 12 years. I will tell you how it has affected me. In my state when people lose their jobs there’s a good chance I will know them by their names…” Clinton went on to answer questions relating directly with the people on a very personal level.
Clinton was very good at answering questions in a very calm way and was excellent with answering a personal attack later when Bob Dole tried to corner him, “I could answer these things tit for tat, but I hope we can talk about what we are going to do in the future. No attack ever created a job or educated a child or helped a family make ends meet.” Once again, the trend in these town hall debates seems to favor answers that are not defensive rather, a great “zinger” comeback to very difficult questions.
Body language expert Janine Driver complimented George W. Bush against Al Gore in body language when he answered a question with fierce passion, opening his arms out; Driver decoded this as- “This is a big issue.” Though, in the same debates, Gore was criticized for his body language when he stood too close to Bush in an awkward invasion of personal space.
Today’s town hall debates will be no different, while body language will be important- connecting with the audience on a human level and equally having a great comeback to tough questions are as important. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had an excellent comeback on Meet The Press last Sunday. When Mayor Kasim Reed complimented Vice President Biden’s performance as “authentic” McDonnell agreed:
“Well, let me first say that Joe Biden is authentic and last week he said two important things to every voter- one that the middle class has been buried during the last four years- of course he’s been in charge the last four years. Number two, that absolutely Obama and Biden are going to raise your taxes about $2 trillion over the next four years.”
McDonnell went on to criticize the $16 trillion national debt, 23 million Americans unemployed, gas prices doubling, and finished by conveying his confidence in the Romney-Ryan ticket being the only ones, according to Governor McDonnell, to get America out of “this mess.” He went on to state, “four more years of the same policies will get four more years of the same results.”
Former Governor Jennifer Granholm shot back with an attack on Romney’s and Ryan’s inability to give detailed answers on how they were going to pay for the “5 trillion dollars lowering of the tax rates” claiming that Romney/Ryan have not listed a single “deduction or loophole” they would close. Just like the town hall debates may have some tough questions such as this, having great comebacks though is very important. Governor McDonnell had another great “zinger” comeback, as he immediately responded with, “Jennifer where is the Obama plan? He’s had 4 years, he can’t even get a budget passed?”
From panel experts, to video analysis of past town hall “highs” and “lows”, one thing is for certain America has two very confident and committed candidates with two very different plans in place. Maybe it is not how tough the question is but how quick of a “zinger” comeback response one can conjure up. Either way, Candy Crowley of CNN will be moderating round 3 on the debates, with just one more Presidential debate left after tonight.