Carson entered the race on Sunday and Fiorina and Huckabee are set to announce later this week. While there is more to being president than good communication skills, running for president is one big, long, test of communication skills.
So it only makes sense to judge candidates as communicators. Carson and Fiorina are quite easy to judge. Both are highly skilled as public speakers and media personalities–they deliver the invective filled sound bite like real pros. However, they are jokes as presidential communicators.
They haven’t paid their dues.
Fiorina ran for office in California once before and suffered a disastrous loss. Fiorina now running for President is the equivalent of a 24-year old who failed at one startup now applying to be the CEO of a large, publicly-traded company like HP (Fiorina’s previous company). In other words a total joke.
Ben Carson, a highly respected pediatric surgeon, is as credible as a presidential candidate as, say, a high school English teacher offering to perform surgery on your child’s brain–scary.
While it’s fun for populist commentators to denounce “career politicians” and “Washington insiders” and proclaim the need for an honest man (woman) to come to Washington to clean things up, this is all claptrap.
Politics is an extraordinarily difficult career that requires the skills of getting people who don’t agree with you to actually do stuff they don’t want to do.
Being a talking head on TV requires the exact opposite skill; alienating those who disagree with you and getting people who already agree with you to do nothing but nod their heads.
Mike Huckabee is a different case. He served as Governor of Arkansas for more than a decade and has run for President before. He is a warm, funny, and talented communicator on TV and the stump. I also happen to think that Huckabee could have won the GOP nomination in 2012 if he had run–but at that time he was too busy cashing in on the fame he generated from his 2008 campaign for President.
So what has Huckabee done of note in the 8 years since he’s left elective office? He’s hosted TV and radio shows where he has tried to be a junior varsity Rush Limbaugh. He has played the guitar and provided airtime to Ted Nugent. And, he appears to have gained back 99 out of the 100 pounds he lost a decade ago.
Has he added a single idea to the foreign policy or economic affairs debates in the country in the last 8 years? Not that I’ve noticed. Has he said anything of remote interest to anyone that isn’t already a hard-core conservative, white, straight, Christian, southerner? Again, not that I’ve seen.
Huckabee seems, frankly, uninterested in communicating ideas to anyone who isn’t already a member of his “Guns, Grits and Gravy” tribe. And that’s why he will never be president. You have to be able to communicate with an entire country.
Meanwhile, the GOP does have many serious candidates who are also talented communicators. I do believe that the GOP could win in 2016; just not with Fiorina, Carson or Huckabee.
Scott Walker, JEB Bush, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and a few others are all people who have shown that they can communicate within the context of political campaigns where you have to appeal to a majority of voters. And I predict that the GOP (like the Democrats) will choose a nominee who has been elected, and reelected in an important position as Governor or Senator as their party nominee.
TJ Walker and Media Training Worldwide offer online communications training courses to political candidates around the world. More here https://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com/online-training.html