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Date: 2024-05-21 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00023349
PDA / RALPH NADER ELECTION SUPPORT
7. RHETORIC & DEBATE

RHETORIC & DEBATE NOTES

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Peter Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
RHETORIC & DEBATE NOTES

* Never use “Climate Change” (a pablum phrase invented by Frank Luntz) but rather “Climate Violence.” Never use “Extremists” when you can say “Dangerous Extremists” …which is far more evocative of abortion bans, gun massacres, and insurrection denialism.

* A Republican will oppose everything Biden proposes and then call him a “failed president” when many of his proposals are blocked by unanimous opposition from GOP members. “Don’t confuse the victim for the culprit—the GOP is the ‘Party of No’.”

* Presentation can be as or more important as content, especially given the default monotone when a candidate repeats a talking point the fiftieth time. Using genuinely emotive language or evocative imagery can make even standard talking points inspiring.

* Don’t repeat a smear or falsehood in a response (“I don’t want to defund the police” – unhelpfully spreads it).

* It’s best in a debate to remain calm and confident. So avoid sophomoric eye-rolling or jaw-clenching. BUT if your opponent says something really really wrong/nutty, then be ready to pounce not more than one or two times in a debate and say a version of, “Are you kidding me? Seriously? You think voters are fools?” This will get viewers’ attention and help drive the issue under discussion to become the news story post-debate. the story out of debate.

* If a rival overuses “Woke,” call it out rather than be bludgeoned by it. “You invoke ‘woke’ like Joe McCarthy sneering about ‘Communists’ – you use it as a smear against anyone urging fair treatment for all by assuming the speaker’s insincerity. I think that insulting people because of their race, orientation, or gender is wrong. You don’t?”

* If you’re repeatedly hectored or interrupted during a debate, one good response: “Sorry to speak while you’re interrupting me. May I finish?” Also: Call your party the “Democracy Party” – which is better than “Democrat Party” and at the same time highlights the GOP’s assault on our freedoms.

* ”Stop Stealing Our Freedoms and Rights.” The GOP is coming for your Social Security, your Medicare, your right to marry who you choose, your right to use contraceptives, your right to control your body (if you’re a woman), and your right to participate in free and fair elections.

* Why be subtle if trying to make the GOP pay a price for Trump? “He’s the worst traitor U.S. history since Benedict Arnold.” His campaign DID coordinate with Russia in 2016 (according to a 1000 page bi-partisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee); never criticized Putin in his term as president; stole classified documents when he left office; spurred the only assault on the U.S. Capitol to steal an election based on the Big Lie that he had won…and, in a first, put the life of his vice-president in jeopardy. Need more evidence?”

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