The Republican Presidential Candidates’ Dilemma | Media Training

There are 16 major Republican candidates fighting for the GOP nomination. Only 10 will be in the televised debates coming up in the next few weeks. The invitations will be sent based on who is in the top ten in national polls.

And polls are based, primarily, on news coverage.

So how can a candidate get news coverage? Those who have followed me for a long time know that I have a theory that all edited news media quotes from candidates or other newsmakers come from one of ten speech patterns:

  1. Analogies
  2. Bold Action words
  3. Examples
  4. Emotion
  5. Absolutes
  6. Clichés
  7. Humor
  8. Rhetorical Questions
  9. Pop Culture References


  1. Attacks.

Of the ten, “attack” is far and away the easiest way to get a reporter or news producer to quote you or run a sound bite. The problem for 15 of the 16 candidates is that Donald Trump is the ultimate master of attack. Trump is willing and able to attack anyone and anything with greater gusto and force than anyone else in the field. (Trump might not be the best businessman, or TV star or candidate in the world, but he really is the best in the world at attacking people in the media) Plus, Trump usually packages his attacks with absolutes, emotion and action.

The result? Trump is getting almost all the media attention.

The other candidates are left fighting over tiny CSPAN media crumbs and scraps.

Rand Paul was last seen attacking the U.S. tax code with a chain saw. Lindsey Graham put his cell phone in a blender. Ted Cruz called the GOP Senate leader a liar. And Rick Perry called Trump a cancer and a demagogue.

Those actions are like T-Ball (pre-Little League) compared to Trump’s Major League attacks.

What does a serious, sober sitting governor from a prominent swing state, like John Kasich, do to get attention?

Short of burning Hillary Clinton in effigy 20 times a day in front of TV stations, I don’t know.


FYI, I am not working in this presidential cycle, but I have been a communications advisers to hundreds of campaigns, including to Presidents of countries, Prime Ministers, U.S. Senators and Members of Congress, Members of Parliament and Mayors. I have an online training course Media and Public Speaking Training for Political Candidates

The course is normally $297, but readers of this blog can get it for $10 this week using the link below.

TJ Walker is the President of Media Training Worldwide +1.212.764.4955

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