The campaign spokeswoman for biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, mocked the idea that Gov. Ron DeSantis would take a rhetorical sledgehammer to her boss, calling him “Fake Vivek” or “Vivek the Fake” from the debate stage in Milwaukee.
“Vivek’s job on Aug. 23 is to introduce himself and his vision to the American people,” said Tricia McLaughlin, the one-time communications director for the Ohio Republican Party.
“These boring, canned attack lines from a robotic candidate doesn’t change that,” she said.
“If DeSantis struggles to use a spoon, I can’t imagine he is particularly agile with a sledgehammer,” she said.
Axiom Strategies, the firm owned by Jeff Roe, the political consultant for the pro-DeSantis Never Back Down PAC, posted a strategy and tactics memorandum for the governor to exercise at the Republican National Committee’s first presidential debate in Milwaukee.
The New York Times wrote about the debate memo, which was taken down, but not before the Timesmen were able to right-click it.
The memo advised DeSantis to attack President Joseph R. Biden and the media three-to-five times, present a positive vision two-to-three times, and dismiss attacks from non-first-tier candidates. President Donald J. Trump has not yet committed to attend.
“You try to avoid as many mistakes as you can. You try to give them as many pictures as you can. And if you need coverage, you attack, and you will get coverage,” the memo said.
Key to the memo’s theory of political debate success was Roger Ailes’ maxim that if two men are debating on stage, and one of them falls into the orchestra pit, regardless of which man was the better debater, the man falling into the pit would be the front-page story.
The memo’s author devised four potential orchestra pit moments for DeSantis, referred to as “GRD.”
1. Take a sledgehammer to Vivek Ramaswamy: “Fake Vivek” or “Vivek the Fake.”
2. Defend Trump when Chris Christie attacks him: “Trump isn’t here, so let’s just leave him alone. He’s too weak to defend himself here. We’re all running against him. I don’t think we want to join forces with someone on this stage who’s auditioning for a show on MSNBC.”
3. Invoke a personal anecdote story about family, kids, Casey, showing emotion.
In English politics, these are microwave remarks since they are all prepared, and all the politician has to do is warm it up on stage.
There is always a risk of being too well-prepared. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in a 2011 debate, forgot one of the three federal departments he wanted to eliminate. He remembered Commerce and Education, but he forgot Energy. Trump appointed Perry as his Energy Secretary in a delicious twist.
For DeSantis, who has already emulated Trump’s gestures and pronunciation of Chi-nah, it is interesting he would be told by people supporting him that he should also come up with an insulting nickname for Ramaswamy.
The knock at Christie is a bank shot on Trump for being too weak to show up in Milwaukee and debate the other candidates. Of course, none of them are being prosecuted in four trials in four venues.
As for the advice to tell a nice story about your family, it seems conventional enough. Almost unnecessary wisdom for a professional politician, but then there is the stinger at the end: “showing emotion.”
The fourth pit moment is actually the transcript of a video of a guy sitting on his porch steps. We hear his inner voice working out his feelings for Trump and whether abandoning the man the guy loves is OK. Maybe the goal was for GRD to watch the video and internalize its message.
I’m not really a fan of what’s going on right now. I mean, the Democrats are just unbelievable. It’s a mess. It’s a; it’s a hot mess. I love Donald Trump. I love what he did once he got in. I thought it was a breath of fresh air.
He was attacked all the time, and it seemed like, you know, it just seemed nonstop the drama. It affected my family. I mean, you know, with my own sister, I didn’t get invited to her Thanksgiving after a while.
He’s got so many distractions, the constant fighting something every day, and I’m not sure he can focus on moving the country forward. The election is really important because we’re going in the wrong direction. I mean, we definitely need somebody that can freaking win. I think you’d probably lose that bet if you voted for Trump.
You want somebody that’s smart, who actually knows how to build teams to solve issues, focus on the issues that really need to be fixed.
This is the underlying premise for the DeSantis campaign: Trump was great, but the Deep State jammed him up. DeSantis is different. The Deep State will not oppose him as he enacts the policies Trump could not.
Apparently, the DeSantis campaign believes he wins if Americans believe he can bring peace to Thanksgiving dinner. Forget passing a tax cut. Pass the gravy.