Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"The '80's Are Calling..."

Mitt Romney opened the debate hoping for some levity. Referring to last week's Al Smith Dinner in New York, he said: "Mr. President...we were together at a humorous event a little earlier, and it's nice to maybe be funny this time, not on purpose. We'll see what happens." Well, he saw what happened, alright. Obama "funnied" the life out of him as he put another notch on his debate-win belt.

Perhaps the biggest winner of the night besides Obama was the late former President Richard Nixon, who no longer holds the "sweatiest presidential debater" crown. Romney perspired so much he looked like Usain Bolt in mile 26 of the NYC Marathon. Although I'm not sure what was more humiliating for the Republican challenger, his obvious disregard for the "Never let 'em see ya sweat" adage or his repeated cries of "Attacking me is not an agenda!," which his campaign even tweeted throughout the evening. Nothing says "presidential" more than a sopping wet whiner.

After waking from his first-debate coma, Obama came back swinging in last week's second match. But it was Monday night's foreign policy debate that will be most remembered. Obama delivered a couple of verbal smack downs on par with Lloyd Bentsen's famous 1988 "You're no Jack Kennedy" barb to his Republican vice presidential challenger Dan Quayle.

"The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back," Obama quipped in response to Romney's outdated positions. And when Romney charged that the Navy has fewer ships than it did in 1916 the president shot back with: "We also have fewer horses and bayonets."

It was about this point in the debate that conservative pundit Glenn Beck tweeted in frustration of Romney:  "He is not hitting anywhere. Is this to make him not scary? He is scaring me."

Obama also called out his opponent's Romnesia on several occasions, the most notable over the auto industry bailout, which Romney had opposed in his November 18, 2008 NY Times "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed. "If we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we'd be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China. You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye...Governor, the people in Detroit don't forget."

Romney, who is typically an attack dog at these debates, sat meekly for most of the night and seemed to follow a strategy that called for him to agree more with Obama than disagree. Surprisingly, the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, where four Americans died including Ambassador Chris Stevens, didn't dominate the discussion as expected. Instead, Romney shared positions on China, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, drone attacks and anti-terrorism so similar to the president's that at times it was hard to tell the two candidates apart.  It was interesting that virtually the entire foreign policy discussion focused on the Middle East, as if nothing else around the world matters. Not a peep about the European financial meltdown, for example, and how they'd help fix the collapsing economies of Spain, Greece and Italy.  

So who "won?" A CBS News poll had 53%-23% for Obama.  CNN's insta-poll showed Obama with a  48%-40% margin. Clearly, Obama was as calm, cool and collected as Kennedy was in his historic 1960 debate against Nixon. He demonstrated intelligence, a mastery of the facts and issues, discipline and control. He was presidential and a highly competent Commander-in-Chief. He was Muhammad Ali to Romney's Chuck Wepner.

To the contrary, Romney was agitated, befuddled, nervous, naive, inexperienced and yes, very, very sweaty. He had so little in his foreign policy arsenal that he tried to steer the discussion to the economy at every possible turn. He gave voters zero reason to believe he brings anything new to the foreign policy table, nor reasons why they should stop the Obama momentum abroad. And when Republican spinners all claim, as former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer did, that Benghazi (which they've harped on for weeks) and foreign policy doesn't matter and that it's the economy that Americans will vote on, or that the debate itself "doesn't matter," it's obvious they know their guy lost.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Obama May Have Lost Tuesday's Debate

Ok, so Democrats are happy that President Obama decided to show up for Tuesday night’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, his second match with his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. He certainly came out swinging and scored some decisive points. But was Obama’s feistier, more spirited performance enough to move the needle? Did he get the job done?

While the tragic deaths of four Americans in Benghazi at the hands of terrorists has consumed the right-wing punditry these past several weeks, Romney himself chose to focus on jobs and the economy, and for good reason.  A CBS Instant Poll after the debate showed that he won by 65%-34% on the economy. In the days ahead we’ll see a slew of new polls indicating whether or not either candidate received an appreciable bounce and if the debate in any way might impact the election. 

The president brought his A-Game, but it was his B-Game that was on display for most of the 90-minutes before an audience of eighty so-called independents (honestly, at this point in the campaign, how is it possible they’re still undecided? “Gee, as a woman, I’m still unsure whether I want to control what goes in and out of my vagina, or if I’m ok with rich old white men making those decisions for me!” Who are these people!?). The B-Game is all he has. He’s truly not a fighter. Deep down, he’s a gentleman, and gentlemen don’t street fight, which is how Romney battles.

But their roles and goals were switched from the last debate: the bar for Obama was set so low that he couldn’t fail, while the bar for Romney, fresh off his killer performance two weeks ago, was unrealistically high. Romney performs best when his back is to the wall, while Obama, given the monumental criticism he faced after the first debate, reignited his mojo. It was a lot easier for him to succeed given this landscape.  A CNN poll taken Wednesday found 73% said Obama’s performance exceeded expectations compared with 37% for who said Romney fared better than expected. But more telling was who "won:" the poll found that 46% went for Obama while 39% gave it to Romney. With a 4.5% margin of error, this certainly was no knock-out.

To be sure, there were moments that literally made me cringe. Mostly when Romney acted like an uber-entitled, duplicitous bully who believes that interrupting and shouting over the President of the United States, while also disrespecting the moderator and the rules, is acceptable behavior, if not de rigueur. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, Obama fought the war with what he has. While I believe it would’ve been conduct unbecoming a president had Obama met Romney’s child-like petulance with similar loutish, combative behavior, I would’ve preferred to see more Bill Clinton-style passion and forcefulness—fire in the belly—as well as much more detail and vision, both of which, especially on the economy, were in very short supply.

So what was essentially missing from the president? He would’ve benefited from more directly and aggressively going after Romney on the issues and his positions. When “Moderate Mitt” spun his tall tales about how he’s pro-education, pro-women, pro-middle class, pro-Medicare and pro-jobs, for example, Obama could’ve challenged him with:

•    “No, Gov. Romney, you, Rep. Ryan and your party seek to cut or eliminate Pell Grants and similar government aid for college students.”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, your policies and statements aren’t supportive of education and teachers. You and your party believe the Department of Education should be dismantled, and that we have enough teachers.”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, you, Rep. Ryan and your party do not champion women’s rights…in the workplace or involving their health and their own bodies.”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, you, Rep. Ryan and your party care about one thing: providing massive tax breaks for the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class. You would like to cut all government assistance and give that money to the rich.  You’re like Robin Hood in reverse.”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, you’re not being honest about your statement, and my administration’s actions, about the auto industry. ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’ is what you said.  This would’ve killed the auto industry. The banks weren’t giving them funding to survive. We bailed them out. We helped them survive and thrive, as their sales now prove. We saved a million jobs. You would’ve lost those million jobs.”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, you and your party are against every measure I and my Democratic colleagues in Congress have attempted to enact to create jobs.  I challenge you right now to tell Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans, before millions of Americans watching tonight, to pass my jobs bill!”
•    “No, Gov. Romney, you and Paul Ryan want to end Medicare as we know it, turning it instead into a costly and confusing voucher program, forcing seniors to go out shopping for insurance.”
•    “Gov. Romney, perhaps interrupting, shouting over someone and re-writing the rules is how it works for CEO’s in the boardroom, but that’s not how it it’s done in politics.”

Let’s be clear: the Obama we saw Tuesday night was infinitely stronger and more effective than the empty suit that showed up three weeks ago. He excited and fired up the base for sure. But better may not be what independent voters wanted or needed to see and hear. Next Monday night he’ll have another opportunity to close the deal. It’ll be fascinating to see which Obama shows up this time.  And, according to RealClearPolitics.com,  with Romney slightly leading in key battleground states such as Florida, Missouri, Colorado and North Carolina, and virtually tied with Obama in Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nevada and Iowa, the Democratic base would be wise not to be too celebratory just yet.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More Debate Suggestions for Obama Since He Clearly Didn't Listen to Me the First Time

The fate of the presidential election could hinge on the second debate Tuesday between Barack "I Was Too Polite" Obama and “Moderate Mitt” Romney, judging from the impact their performances in the first debate had on the media, voters and the polls. So without much fanfare I hereby offer my advice to Obama on how to win this one:

1. Do not, I repeat, do not look down. Period. Not even to write notes. At this point in your political career if you can't wing it you're in the wrong business

2. When he's talking, stare at Romney like you're on a deserted island and he's the last piece of food you’ll ever eat. Half smile, intent gaze. Practice this face in front of the mirror between now and then

3. Alternate between looking at Romney and looking into the camera to address voters directly

4. Be aggressive. Forcefully challenge Romney's lies and distortions. If he flips and flops on his positions call him out on it. Call him "Moderate Mitt" and contradict him with his own prior statements and positions

5. Defend government spending, and your policies in particular, as having saved the economy when neither consumers, banks or businesses were spending a nickel. New data out last week showed that consumer confidence is way up, unemployment and foreclosures are down, housing is recovering and Americans are feeling the country's headed in the right direction. Pounce on that! 

6. Remind them of how well their retirement accounts have done as the Dow and NASDAQ have risen 100% and %155% respectively

7. Proudly discuss the auto bailout and how you saved that critical industry...while reminding voters how Romney wanted to "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt"

8. Remind voters that while corporate America is enjoying record profits they're still not hiring, the private sector has added almost 5-million over the last 30 consecutive months

9. Hit Romney hard with his 47% comments. This is the proverbial gift that needs to keep on giving

10. Pressure Romney to give specifics on which tax loopholes and deductions he will cut/end. Press him hard

11. Do a Joe Biden and look into the camera and remind seniors that Romney/Ryan will end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security. Assure them that there’s only one party that ever does anything to protect and preserve Medicare and Social Security, and that’s the Democratic Party

12. On foreign policy, don't let Romney hang you up on Benghazi. Acknowledge the ongoing investigation to get to the bottom of what happened, assure voters that the terrorists will be brought to justice, and then remind them of how the world, because of you, is free of bin-Laden, al-Zawahiri and Qaddafi, and that al-Qaeda has been nearly decimated and that there’s been more Drone attacks into Pakistan than ever….all of which continues to keep Americans safe here at home.

13. Repeat the following catchall’s as much as you can: “Will end Medicare as we know it.” “Will privatize Social Security.” "The job creators aren't creating jobs." “Will return us to the same failed policies of George W. Bush.” “Detroit lives and bin Laden’s dead.” Huge tax cuts for the rich, increases for the middle class.” “The math simply doesn’t add up.” “Let women decide what happens to their bodies.” "Our enemies have been brought to justice." "The war in Iraq is over." "Our troops in Afghanistan will soon be home."

14. Act like being president for another four years is a job you actually want. Show some damn passion. Don't let Romney be the only bubbly one in the room

15. I know it's hard, but try to explain things as Bill Clinton would...with the same sincerity, clarity and brevity. You're a charming dude. Show it. Leave the wonky professor act home

16. And lastly...get some sleep tonight, for Pete's sake, so you don't look like you'd rather be on a hammock napping

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Here's How/Why Obama Must Proudly Defend Government's Role in the Economic Recovery

Big government. Those two words are uttered with utter disdain by Mitt Romney and Republicans. But go back to the Fall of 2008, when the U.S. economy was on the verge of bone-chilling collapse, and it was big government that kept us from falling into the abyss.

Let's give credit all around. It was former president George W. Bush who pushed through the initial $25-billion round of the auto bailout and $428-billion in TARP funds for Wall Street. President Obama continued the aid, injecting $787 billion more through his economic stimulus and job creation programs; over a trillion in additional investments in banks, corporate debt and mortgage-backed securities purchases; and another $60-billion into Detroit (while Mitt Romney was busy writing op-eds entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt").

Trillions were injected by government into the economy at a time when both consumers and businesses were holding onto every nickel, while banks froze credit and borrowing, as the nation's fiscal engine was sputtering off a cliff.

Four years later, corporate America enjoys record productivity and profits, yet the unemployment rate remains near 8%...with an average of just 150,000 or so jobs created monthly. Businesses still aren't investing in the economy despite their swollen coffers, and consumer confidence and spending, as well as housing, while increasing, is nowhere near what it needs to be for the economy to fully recover. Think about what America's economy would look like today without that emergency relief from government?

But the fact is, all over the country steady economic improvement is evident. Ohio, for example, a critical battleground state and one of the hardest hit by financial crisis, has seen unemployment drop from a 2010 peak of 10.6% to 7.2%. Over 70,000 of the jobs created have been in the auto industry. And while Ohio's Gov. John Kasich proudly boasts of his state's turnaround, he and other governors with similar progress claim that neither Obama or his policies deserve any credit.

So let's get this straight: it's Obama's fault on a statewide level when the nationwide economy tanks, but when it recovers it's the individual states, and their respective governors, who are responsible for the growth. If that sounds like disingenuous political double-talk, it is.

With less than a month before the election, it's time for Obama to stop the nice-guy routine and start acting like a man who wants to keep his job, and in particular, because he deserves to. He must proudly embrace his policies and the tremendous impact they've had on the economic recovery and stop allowing Romney and Republicans from controlling the narrative and defining him as a reckless tax and spend liberal.   

Here's what he needs to say when he's out on the stump:

"Are we better off today than we were four years ago? You bet we are! Do you remember how you felt in the Fall of 2008...when you feared for your job, your retirement savings dropped in half, and the value of your home sank 30%-40%? When you worried that your bank would collapse and with it your life's savings? Four years later there's been a swing of almost a million in terms of monthly jobs lost to jobs being created.  We did that. There's over 4.5-million private sector new jobs created in 30 straight months. We did that. The auto industry is alive and thriving. We did that. There's record profits in corporate America. We did that. Your 401K, college and investment accounts have doubled.  We did that. Your home value is increasing, and you're able to get credit again....which is why consumer confidence and spending is rising. We did that. And you know what else we did? We used government, your government, the government to which you pay taxes, to help this sick economy when no one else would. Ya know what America would look like today without your government helping you when you need it most? It would look like, well...it would look like President Romney. The choice is yours America..."

And it wouldn't hurt to punch this out with the passion, sincerity and clarity of Bill Clinton.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

An Open Letter to Mitt Romney From Big Bird


Dear Mr. Romney:
I have to say, I am both shocked and disappointed by your desire to cut funding for PBS. You said at the debate that "I love Big Bird." But the sad truth is, you don't love me at all. You don't love any of us...not Bert, Ernie, Oscar, The Count, Grover or Elmo either...and who on Earth doesn't love Elmo? What's wrong with you?!

Can you please explain to me why you think it's more important, for example, to help private plane owners but not PBS? Where are your priorities? You're clearly more concerned with Wall Street than you are Sesame Street. But let me tell you something: investment bankers never taught kids how to read, write, count and to be caring, sensitive, thoughtful people. Did you know that children who watched our program have an average 16% higher GPA in high school than those who didn't? Our show also teaches them from an early age to appreciate and respect art and science.

Well maybe that's it. Maybe it's because you and your party don't appreciate and respect art and science? Maybe it stems from the desire to dismantle the Department of Education, and your statements that we don't need more teachers. Maybe it's because you've never needed outside help in your entire life because you came from a rich, privileged family who gave you everything you could ever possibly want...including the best private education available.

I'm sure you never sat on the floor of a ghetto tenement watching Sesame Street, or any other PBS program, on an old junky television with a hanger clipped to it for reception. For many of our viewers, our show is not just a free babysitter and tutor, but an entry into a world of culture and fantasy that only rich folks like you have at their fingertips every day just by waking up. Is that so hard to understand? Why is it so hard for you to grasp that some folks, and millions of children, simply need a little help in life?

Look, the government gives the Corporation for Public Broadcasting $445 million per year. As far as the $4-trilion U.S. budget goes, that's a pimple on Snuffleupagus's ass (sorry for using a bad word, but I'm very upset with you!).  Is this a road you really wanna go down?

Mr. Romney, unlike most of my other cast mates who are solid Obamacons, I am, or at least until Wednesday night's debate, was an independent. But you've pushed me--and I suspect millions of concerned moms and dads--into Obama's camp. You've lost my vote. I simply cannot fathom supporting someone who doesn't recognize the value in public television and it's tremendous impact on society....both in the near and long term. 

Oh, and one more thing. You should really love us because, with a name like Mitt, you could easily be one of the characters on our show....

Big Bird

Friday, October 05, 2012

Facts, Polls and Job Stats, Oh My!

First it was the assault on facts. Then came fact-checker-bashing followed by the vast left-wing poll conspiracy. And now the Republican War on Reality has opened another front: the U.S. Labor Department and its monthly employment statistics.

Moments after the September jobs report was released Friday morning, which showed 114,000 jobs created, unemployment dipping below 8% for the first time in almost four years and an increase in average hourly wages, the right-wing fact-attack was in full delusional gear.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, in the same breath that he said he was totally ill-equipped to understand and properly assess the numbers, boldly declared "they just don't make any sense."  

Former GE CEO Jack Welch immediately Tweeted "Unbelievable jobs numbers ...... these Chicago guys will do anything ...... can't debate so change numbers."  

That's right, conservatives, you've deftly cracked the case! That highly partisan Labor Department, together with that crafty President Obama, hatched the following brilliant scheme to get him re-elected: consistently put out really sucky employment numbers for four years, make Obama look totally inept as he relentlessly gets pummeled by the right, only to come in stealth-like a month before the election with a whopping 114,000 jobs created and a breathtaking drop of .03% in the unemployment rate to a near-invisible 7.8%. The ultimate fake out! Pure genius! If these numbers don't spell landslide I don't know what does.

And the Republican presidential candidate himself, Mitt "Chicken Little" Romney, while not stooping to the low of accusing the Labor Department of foul play, couldn't pass up the opportunity to be the nattering nabob of negativity:

"This is not what a real recovery looks like.... If I’m elected, we will have a real recovery with pro-growth policies that will create 12 million new jobs and rising incomes for everyone." 'And a chicken in every pot! Policies so incredible I'd have to kill ya if I told ya the specifics...'

Romney, the man who'd love to serve up Big Bird at the local Chick-fil-A, and fresh from his Oscar-worthy performance Wednesday night in "The Many Faces of Mitt," is apparently banking on Americans thumbing their collective noses at true, evident economic progress while buying into his "The Sky is Falling" politically-expedient rhetoric. Days from now, when the new polls show his debate bounce was as buoyant as Rush Limbaugh's gut, I'm sure we'll see another round of Etch-a-Sketchin' from the man who Rick Santorum so aptly accused of having no core.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Professor and the Pugilist

He came prepared to fight. He was smart, aggressive, engaged, charming and funny. He reassuringly spoke of his concern for the poor, the middle class, seniors, affordable healthcare, Social Security, education and teachers. He was substantive, forthcoming and seemed genuinely wanting to be there, demonstrating a clear passion for the job. If you said this was President Obama you'd be wrong. Mitt Romney delivered what pundits Thursday morning are calling the best Republican debate performance since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

The key question is, what the hell happened to Obama? Where was he? Where was his passion, his engagement, his desire to be in that room? The man who showed up instead was aloof, disengaged, ill-prepared (how is that even possible given all the sequestered pre-debate prep?) and passive. He hung his head down more than a guilty 6-year-old who didn't do her chores and hardly made eye contact with Romney. He appeared nervous, fearful and shocked by his opponent's clear domination and control of the narrative.  As MSNBC's Chris Matthews lamented, "He was ignoring the debate rather than fight it."

Romney's Alpha was evident from the get-go. He was energized and understood his mission, which was to paint Obama as a weak, big-government liberal who wants to raise taxes on the middle class as the nation's debt, gas prices and health care costs increase while personal incomes decrease (by $4300, Romney claimed). He succeeded. A CNN poll following the debate showed that 75% saw Romney as the victor.

And why would just 25% say that Obama won? Because Obama was as AWOL from the debate as George W. Bush was during the Vietnam War. There was no mention of Romney's infamous 47% statement. No mention of Romney's comments about sending poor, uninsured people to emergency rooms. No mention of Romney's desire to defund Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade. No mention of Romney's statements about not needing more teachers. No mention of Bain and the layoffs of tens of thousands. No mention of Romney's "corporations are people" statement. No mention of Romney's personal taxes and his offshore investments. No mention of his running-mate Paul Ryan's plan to dismantle Medicare and privatize Social Security. 

How on Earth could Romney win on the subject of healthcare when (a) his Romneycare was the model for Obamacare and (b) he and Ryan would end Medicare as we know it, sending old folks into the streets shopping for insurance? Same as Bush and Dick Cheney, the guys who never served in the military, won the "tough guy" contest against decorated war hero John Kerry in 2004. The answer is simple: both Kerry and Obama allowed their opponents to define them without forcefully and effectively countering the rhetoric. 

In the end, Obama's performance was stunning in its ineffectiveness. What should've been a slam-dunk became a wild air ball from half court. Should he lose a month from now, historians will mark his defeat as having been snatched from the jaws of victory in Denver on October 4th.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Debate: What Would Ali and Frazier Do?

Tonight's the big showdown. The main event. Obama vs Romney. It's got the excitement and buzz of a heavyweight prize fight. Only in the past week, instead of staring down and psyching out their opponents, as boxers usually do at weigh-ins and press conferences, these two politicians, and their surrogates, have so effusively praised the other guy to the point of it being more over-the-top than a Lady Gaga concert:

"We know Gov. Romney has been practicing for months,” said Obama senior adviser David Axelrod. “I think the invasion of Normandy took less preparation than he's putting into these debates. So, I expect he'll be prepared and ready, and will be strong in these debates."  

"President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker, and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history," said Romney's campaign adviser Beth Myers.

Even the candidates themselves got involved in the verbal lovefest:

“No, no. Gov. Romney, he’s good debater. I’m just OK,” said Obama.

"He's great. He's competent.  He's experienced. He's done this. He's fantastic," gushed Ann Romney like a school girl.

But what if prizefighters did lavish the same kind of praise on their opponents before a battle? What would a typical Ali/Frazier press conference have sounded like back in the '70s?

Reporter: Muhammad, in what round do you predict you'll knock out Joe Frazier?

Ali: Knockout?! Are you kidding? Have you seen his left hook?! He'll probably knock me on my ass in Round One!

Smokin' Joe Frazier: Cassius, you are too kind. Your left jab's a killer and your rope-a-dope's gonna wear me out. You'll drop me with a right to the head  before I could say Howard Cosell!

Ali: Seriously, Joe's an incredible fighter. Probably one of the best, if not the best ever.

Frazier: No, it is Ali who truly is "The Greatest!" I'll probably suffer the same fate as Sonny Liston! Ali's gonna win.

Ali: No, Joe's gonna win. He's stronger, more fierce and a true warrior.

And with that they both hugged and wished each other a good fight...

Monday, October 01, 2012

Debate Suggestions for Obama

The first debate is just days away. Democrat and Republican strategists alike have been furiously spinning the other sides' verbal mastery in a highly calculated effort to lower the bar for their guy. President Obama simply needs to maintain the status quo; his comfortable lead in the national polls and in swing states and his overall popularity. Romney needs a game-changer. A "big and bold performance," as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said over the weekend.

To be sure, for Obama and Romney the stakes are extremely high. Obama must convince voters that he's the better of the two candidates to continue driving the economic recovery. Romney must coherently demonstrate that he's the viable alternative, laying out the specifics of his plan to lead America back to prosperity.

Here are some suggestions for the president:      

1. Be a strong, convincing, inspiring leader not a dull, pedantic professor  

2. Keep your answers brief and speak in language that the average voter can understand 

3. Don't get mired in minutiae; resist using too many statistics 

4. Watch the body language. Eye-rolling, head-shaking, sighs, smirks and cackles can kill a campaign 

5. Stay calm, cool and collected. Let Romney be the one who comes off animated, plaintive, erratic, rushed and desperate 

6. Don't be snarky and elitist. That too is Romney's job 

7. Know your facts and convey them forcefully, clearly and concisely 

8. Be sure to make your critical  "Are you better off..." case confidently and convincingly 

9. Smile...a lot. That's one of your greatest assets and why a majority of Americans like you       

10. Stay positive and sound reassuring. Romney's Chicken Little routine will be enough negativity for voters. Remember, Americans by nature are optimistic and do see your economic progress. Reinforce that progress and the better days ahead 

11. Draw as many parallels as you can between ObamaCare and RomneyCare. It will disarm Romney, box him into a corner and strip him of one of his major campaign themes 

12. Medicare, Medicare, Medicare. Play to the Democrats' and your strength on this extremely critical issue for seniors

13. Be careful when discussing social issues such as abortion, contraception and gay marriage. While most Americans (Republicans and independents included) really don't care who does what to their bodies and with whom, it's still a minefield that should be respected  

14. Don't appear defensive, don't raise your voice, and never, ever get angry. Americans don't like or want an angry president.

15. Be presidential. You're the one in the Oval Office. Commander in Chief. Leader of the Free World. You're the one who must be responsible, engaged, disciplined, restrained, sensitive, dignified and diplomatic. Let Romney continue to show irresponsibility, impulsiveness, political opportunism and a lack of empathy.