WASHINGTON, July 31, 2015 – Dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee; watch the Donald make short work of the Cleveland GOP debate against nine opponents on live TV. That may be the end result of what is expected to be a political showdown match thriller for some of the presidential hopefuls on Thursday.
When all of the political dust has finally settled in the debate sparring ring, does anyone truly feel Trump will be knocked out?
What is anyone truly expecting from Donald Trump, who has made it clear in no uncertain terms he cannot be bought or sold, when he is worth at least $10 billion by his own estimation? So what are Americans expecting when Donald and the nine take the Cleveland debate stage? Trump will be Trump.
The billionaire, by his own admission, believes he the greatest when it comes to business. He says he will apply that “success” in dealing with the Mexican government, Russian President Putin, the Chinese and other lesser mortals.
How can the other debaters even compare?
One tip is not to match or mimic Trump. Trump is unique in his background, and any effort by others to play the Trump game will end badly. Trump, and viewers, will knock wanna-bes down for the political count.
Secondly, don’t expect Trump to change his delivery or his attitude for the debates. Donald Trump has already given fair warning that he does not need debate prepping. He will speak his mind, unfiltered, and is not worried about whatever comes out comes out of his mouth.
For those GOP establishment operatives waiting in the wings for the Donald to stumble or commit a political policy gaffe, any opening is going to be gold. One may even imagine the glee that is erupting in their eager hearts as they wait for the Trump to defame, malign or detonate one of the other debaters or even the Fox panel.
That is a political bear trap that Trump will probably not step into. Anyone who has had an opportunity to watch the Donald in action on his long-running NBC “Apprentice” TV show will understand that he fires others, but he does not fire himself by making apprentice-type missteps that he cannot recover from.
What is left for the likes of senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz or Gov. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee and the rest to do, as Trump takes up the political oxygen and attention on the debate stage?
There are two possible tactics that could give the others more solid footing.
One tactic is not to step directly into the verbal lion’s den. If Trump baits a trap, respond with a comment that addresses his verbal jab, but deflect it with a practiced response that shows firmness. Do not respond with accusations or any comment that is equally inflammatory. Speak directly to the American people about how one’s own experience dealt with and solved the problem and kept “families and communities safe and secure.”
Remember a verbal fire cannot survive unless it is fed oxygen. If Huckabee, Paul, Walker, Carson or the rest want to be seen as serious candidates, they should not feed Trump’s fire. He has had decades of practice at incinerating his business opposition. Debate opponents who become his fuel will only find their own political fires doused.
While America may be expecting a reality TV sideshow from Trump, be mindful that voters and especially conservative are searching for real answers that make sense. They understand that Washington D.C. solutions have not worked, and so far Trump through his own hubris is tapping into their feelings and frustration.
Will Trump out-maneuver and out-Trump the GOP debate combatants in Cleveland? Will one or two emerge to dim the star of the current GOP double-digit presidential frontrunner?
The Las Vegas odds are probably on Trump to be victorious in the debate showdown. But who knows, maybe someone may end up forcing the Donald to roll political snake eyes. At this point, probably not.