In addition to my points earlier, the first of which I think would be hugely effective in a debate, I have a few more things I would suggest to Governor Romney if I were helping to coach him this evening:
Pound away on the economy and jobs, including (as I said in the prior note) pointing out that President Obama has presided over 43 months of unemployment over 8% while in the prior 61 years of BLS data there have been a TOTAL of 38 months of unemployment over 8%.
Remind loosely-attached Dems and “Reagan Democrats” and independent voters that they have every reason to be disappointed after being sold “hope and change.”
Without overdoing it, try to connect to the average person. One possibility: “It’s true that the stock market has gone up during this presidency. And that’s helped rich people like me. Meanwhile, as even Joe Biden admits, the middle class has gotten buried by this administration and that is where my focus will be. Median household income is down 8.2 percent under this president, and down nearly 6 percent since the start of the so-called recovery. If that’s an Obama recovery, we cannot afford four more years of his policies so-called success."
Health care costs rose more than 4.5 percent last year, despite Obama’s promises that Obamacare would lower health care costs…not that anybody actually believed that a huge government health care program could possibly lower costs. Under Obama, Americans are paying $3000 a year more for health insurance whereas he promised us that his massive tax bill, which he wouldn't even allow members of Congress to read before voting on it, would lower costs by $2500 per year.
Mention of food stamps and how Social Security Disability rolls are swelling at a faster rate than employment is also good.
Don’t smile too much. Don’t worry about trying to be likeable, though try not to be dislikeable.
Try to annoy the president. Obama is a narcissist who cannot handle criticism. Need to throw him off his game in the same way a pitcher might throw a brush-back pitch to a good hitter, though Obama isn’t nearly as good without a teleprompter as he is with one.
If possible, especially if Obama mentions Clinton, remind voters that Clinton is not on the ballot, and ask why a president needs someone else to explain his policies.
Despite how much fun it was when Gingrich did it in the primary debates, avoid going after the moderator unless the moderator’s infraction is truly flagrant -- which is unlikely given the scrutiny Jim Lehrer knows he will be under.
Extra credit: “Accidentally” call Obama “President Carter”