Skip to comments.73 Rules For Running For President As A Republican
Posted on 08/07/2013 2:32:18 AM PDT by iowamark
We do not yet know who the Republican presidential nominee will be in 2016. We do not even know for certain who the candidates will be, although several are visibly positioning themselves to run. We all have our own ideas about who should run and what the substance of their platforms should be. But even leaving those aside, its possible to draw some lessons from the past few GOP campaign cycles and offer some advice that any prospective candidate should heed, the sooner the better. Some of these rules are in a little tension with each other; nobody said running for President was easy. But most are simply experience and common sense.
1-Run because you think your ideas are right and you believe you would be the best president. Dont stay out because your chances are slim, and dont get in because someone else wants you to. Candidates who dont have a good reason for running or dont want to be there are a fraud on their supporters.
2-Ask yourself what youre willing to sacrifice or compromise on to win. If theres nothing important youd sacrifice, dont run; you will lose. If theres nothing important you wouldnt, dont run; you deserve to lose.
3- If you dont like Republican voters, dont run.
4-Dont start a campaign if youre not prepared for the possibility that you might become the frontrunner. Stranger things have happened.
5-If youve never won an election before, go win one first. This wont be the first one you win.
6-Winning is what counts. Your primary and general election opponents will go negative, play wedge issues that work for them, and raise money wherever it can be found. If you arent willing to do all three enthusiastically, youre going to be a high minded loser. Nobody who listens to the campaign-trail scolds wins. In the general election, if you dont convey to voters that you believe in your heart that your opponent is a dangerously misguided choice, you will lose.
7-Pick your battles, or they will be picked for you. You can choose a few unpopular stances on principle, but even the most principled candidates need to spend most of their time holding defensible ground. If you have positions you cant explain or defend without shooting yourself in the foot, drop them.
8-Dont be surprised when people who liked you before you run dont like you anymore. Prepare for it.
9-Be sure before you run that your family is on board with you running. They need to be completely committed, because it will be harder than they can imagine. Related: think of the worst possible thing anyone could say about the woman in your life you care about the most, and understand that it will be said.
10-You will be called a racist, regardless of your actual life history, behavior, beliefs or platform. Any effort to deny that youre a racist will be taken as proof that you are one. Accept it as the price of admission.
11-Have opposition research done on yourself. Have others you trust review the file. Be prepared to answer for anything that comes up in that research. If theres anything that you think will sink you, dont run.
12-Ask yourself if theres anything people will demand to know about you, and get it out there early. If your tax returns or your business partnerships are too important to disclose, dont run. (We might call this the Bain Capital Rule).
13-Realize that your record, and all the favors youve done, will mean nothing if your primary opponent appears better funded.
14-Run as who you are, not who you think the voters want. Theres no substitute for authenticity.
15-Each morning, before you read the polls or the newspapers, ask yourself what you want to talk about today. Talk about that.
16-If you never give the media new things to talk about, theyll talk about things you dont like.
17-Never assume the voters are stupid or foolish, but also dont assume they are well-informed. Talk to them the way youd explain something to your boss for the first time.
18-Handwrite the parts of your platform you want voters to remember on a 3×5 index card. If it doesnt fit, your message is too complicated. If you cant think of what to start with, dont run.
19-Voters may be motivated by hope, fear, resentment, greed, altriusm or any number of other emotions, but they want to believe they are voting for something, not against someone. Give them some positive cause to rally around beyond defeating the other guy.
20-Optimism wins. If you are going to be a warrior, be a happy warrior. Anger turns people off, so laugh at yourself and the other side whenever possible, even in a heated argument.
21-Ideas dont run for President; people do. If people dont like you, they wont listen to you.
22-Your biography is the opening act. Your policy proposals and principles are the headliner. Never confuse the two. The voters know the difference.
23-Show, dont tell. Proclaiming your conservatism is meaningless, and its harder to sell to the unconverted than policy proposals and accomplishments that are based on conservative thinking.
24-Being a consistent conservative will help you more than pandering to nuts on the Right. If you cant tell the difference between the two, dont run.
25-Winning campaigns attract crazy and stupid people as supporters; you cant get a majority without them. This does not mean you should have crazy or stupid people as your advisers or spokespeople.
26-Principles inspire; overly complex, specific plans are a pinata that can get picked to death. If youre tied down defending Point 7 of a 52 point plan that will never survive contact with the Congress anyway you lose. Complex plans need to be able to be boiled down to the principles and incentives they will operate on. The boiling is the key part.
27-Be ready and able to explain how your plans benefit individual voters. Self-interest is a powerful thing in a democracy.
28-If you havent worked out the necessary details of a policy, dont be rushed into releasing it just because Ezra Klein thinks you dont have a plan. Nobody will care that you didnt have a new tax plan ready 14 months before Election Day.
29-Dont say things that are false just because the CBO thinks theyre true.
30-If you dont have a position on an issue, say that youre still studying the issue. Nobody needs an opinion on everything at the drop of a hat, and youll get in less trouble.
31-When in doubt, go on the attack against the Democratic frontrunner rather than your primary opponents. Never forget that you are auditioning to run the general election against the Democrat, not just trying to be the least-bad Republican.
32-Attacking your opponents from the left, or using left-wing language, is a mistake no matter how tempting the opportunity. It makes Republican voters associate you with people they dont like. This is how both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry ended up fumbling the Bain Capital attack.
33-Be prepared to defend every attack you make, no matter where your campaign made it. Nobody likes a rabbit puncher. Tim Pawlentys attack on Romneycare dissolved the instant he refused to repeat it to Romneys face, and so did his campaign.
34-If your position has changed, explain why the old one was wrong. People want to know how you learn. If you dont think the old one was wrong, just inconvenient, the voters will figure that out.
35-If a debate or interview question is biased or ridiculous, point that out. Voters want to know you can smell a trap. This worked for Newt Gingrich every single time he did it. It worked when George H.W. Bush did it to Dan Rather. It will work for you.
36-Cultivate sympathetic media, from explicitly conservative outlets to fair-minded local media. But even in the primaries, you need to engage periodically with hostile mainstream media outlets to stay in practice and prove to primary voters that you can hold your ground outside the bubble.
37-Refuse to answer horserace questions, and never refer to the base. Leave polls to the pollsters and punditry to the pundits. Mitt Romneys 47% remark was a textbook example of why candidates should not play pundit.
38-Hecklers are an opportunity, not a nuisance. If you cant win an exchange with a heckler, how are you going to win one with a presidential candidate? If youre not sure how its done, go watch some of Chris Christies YouTube collection.
39-Everywhere you go, assume a Democrat is recording what you say. This is probably the case.
40-Never whine about negative campaigning. If its false, fight back; if not, just keep telling your own story. Candidates who are complaining about negative campaigning smell like losing.
41-You did too and you started it get old in a hurry. Use them sparingly.
42-If you find yourself explaining how the Senate works, stop talking. If you find yourself doing this regularly, stop running.
43-Never say the only poll that matters is on Election Day because only losers say that, and anyway even Election Day starts a month early now. But never forget that polls can and do change.
44-Voters do not like obviously insincere pandering, but you cannot win an election by refusing on principle to meet the voters where they are. That includes, yes, addressing Hispanic and other identity groups with a plan for sustained outreach and an explanation of how they benefit from your agenda. Build your outreach team, including liaisons and advertising in Spanish-language media, early and stay engaged as if this was the only way to reach the voters. For some voters, it is.
45-Post something as close to daily as possible on YouTube featuring yourself daily message, clips of your best moments campaigning, vignettes from the trail. You cant visit every voter, but you can visit every voters computer or phone.
46-Never suggest that anybody would not make a good vice president. Whatever they may say, everyone wants to believe they could be offered the job.
47-If youre not making enemies among liberals, youre doing it wrong.
48- If you dont have a plausible strategy for winning conservative support, youre in the wrong partys primary.
49-The goal is to win the election, not just the primary. Never box yourself in to win a primary in a way that will cause you to lose the election.
50-Dont bother making friends in the primary who wont support you in the general. Good press for being the reasonable Republican will evaporate when the choice is between you and a Democrat.
51-Some Republicans can be persuaded to vote for you in the general, but not in the primary. Some will threaten to sit out the general. Ignore them. You cant make everyone happy. Run a strong general election campaign and enough of them will come your way.
52-Dont actively work to alienate your base during the primary. Everyone expects you to do it in the general, and you gain nothing for it in the primary.
53-Dont save cash; its easier to raise money after a win than to win with cash you saved while losing. But make sure your organization can run on fumes now and then during dry spells.
54-If youre not prepared for a debate, dont go. Nobody ever had their campaign sunk by skipping a primary debate. But looking unprepared for a debate can, as Rick Perry learned, create a bad impression that even a decade-long record cant overcome.
55-The Iowa Straw Poll is a trap with no upside. Avoid it. Michele Bachmann won the Straw Poll and still finished last in Iowa.
56-Ballot access rules are important. Devote resources early to learning, complying with them in every state. Mitt Romney didnt have to face Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum in Virginia even though both of them live in Virginia because they didnt do their homework gathering signatures.
57-If you cant fire, dont hire. In fact, dont run.
58-Hire people who are loyal to your message and agenda, and you wont have to worry about their loyalty to your campaign.
59-Dont put off doing thorough opposition research on your opponents. By the time you know who they are, the voters may have decided theyre somebody else.
60-You can afford to effectively skip one early primary. You cant skip more than that. You are running for a nomination that will require you to compete nationally. (Call this the Rudy Giuliani Rule).
61-Use polling properly. Good polling will not tell you what to believe, but will tell you how to sell what you already believe.
62-Data and GOTV are not a secret sauce for victory. But ignoring them is a great way to get blindsided.
63-Dont plan to match the Democrats operations and technology, because then youre just trying to win the last election. Plan to beat it.
64-Political consultants are like leeches. Small numbers, carefully applied, can be good for you. Large numbers will suck you dry, kill you, and move on to another host without a backward look.
65-Never hire consultants who want to use you to remake the party. Theyre not Republicans and youre not a laboratory rat.
66-This is the 21st century. If you wouldnt want it in a TV ad, dont put it in a robocall or a mailer. Nothings under the radar anymore.
67-Always thank your friends when they back you up. Gratitude is currency.
68-Every leak from your campaign should help your campaign. Treat staffers who leak unfavorable things to the press the way you would treat staffers who embezzle your money. Moneys easier to replace.
69-Getting distance from your base in the general on ancillary issues wont hurt you; theyll suck it up and independents will like it. Attacking your base on core issues will alienate your most loyal voters and confuse independents.
70-If you are convinced that a particular running mate will save you from losing, resign yourself to losing because youve already lost.
71-Dont pick a VP who has never served in Congress or run for president in his or her own right. Even the best Governors have a learning curve with national politics, and even the best foreign policy minds have a learning curve with electoral politics. And never steal from the future to pay for the present. Your running mate should not be a Republican star in the making who isnt ready for prime time. In retrospect, Sarah Palins career was irreparably damaged by being elevated too quickly to the national level.
72-Never, ever, ever take anything for granted. Every election, people lose primary or general elections because they were complacent.
73-Make a few rules of your own. Losing campaigns imitate; winning campaigns innovate.
Rule 71.....I am so damned tired of all this Sarah Palin talk about her not having any experience, elevated to quickly, blah, blah....
That canard got thrown out of the bathtub with Hillary, and most certainly with Obama. Just don’t want to hear that crap again!
New rule: The media is never, ever your friend. Tell people to ignore them, that they are opportunists, liars, and liberals. Tell people that the media is no longer relevant.
this is EXCELLENT
now if only we can get someone who accepts all of this to run!
RedState has been anti-Palin since jump street.
I guess so. But I am not going to let a breath of that crap pass by my door without calling it for what it is. If you don’t remark about an absurdity, you tacitly accept it.
TV comedians, media pundits, politicians create these half-assed myths every day. Unchallenged, they become the folk-truth for idiots.
Rule 74 - Keep it to 10 rules.
Rule number one...Forget it. America has undergone a radical change. It is now the USSA. The reelection of Obumbo pretty much proved it.
Any Republican that might win would be only Marxist lite.
With due respect, I found it boring and full of conventional wisdom. Item 6 is actually typical consultant think and is wrong.
Had McCain followed number 6 and pegged Obama for what he is, he might have changed history
Of course we now know that it is not and never was in McCain’s heart to believe Obama and his ideas were misguided dangers to our Republic
I was talking about number 6 as applied to primaries. It is wrong for that. No disagreement about applying it to general election.
#71 ruins the entire list.
This is a real stinker, another words hide who you really are in the primaries. We've had enough of that.
This is why the republican party loses... too much belly button fuzz and time spent pondering on it. I’ll give you three rules that will lead to Victory.
1) BE A REPUBLICAN (SMALL “r”... hint... it ain’t liberal and it ain’t big government)... LOOK IT UP AND STUDY WHAT ONE REALLY IS BEFORE YOU RUN. A MEMBERSHIP CARD DOES NOT MAKE YOU ONE.
2) TELL THE TRUTH FROM THE VERY BEGINNING... YOU CANNOT HIDE ANYTHING FROM ANYONE TODAY.
3) EMBRACE AND STUDY REAGAN. HE IS THE ONLY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT THAT HAS DONE IT THE RIGHT WAY... AT LEAST DURING THE TIME THAT ANY OF US ALIVE TODAY HAVE BEEN VOTING.
Hey... let those of us still living in America and fighting for our lives do so without you expats chiding us and dispiriting us... just lie back on your foreign beach and watch the side show.
Rule 74: The voters in both wings of the goverment party are gullible sheep who will believe most of the lies you tell them. And the ones on your side will bend over backwards to defend your lies and hypocrisy. Just like obama voters believed he was anti-war and are still making excuses for him after 5 years of unrelenting attacks on foreign countries. Just like romney voters believed he was pro gun, anti obamacar, anti big government and against abortion when his own words and deeds made those lies obvious even to small children.
35-If a debate or interview question is biased or ridiculous, point that out. Voters want to know you can smell a trap. This worked for Newt Gingrich every single time he did it. It worked when George H.W. Bush did it to Dan Rather. It will work for you.
But do NOT waste time DEFENDING yourself!
That's exactly what they want you to do!
Remember: Mitt was once a missionary...
What would you call the re-election of Clinton?
Rule number 1: Give the voters a reason to vote for you.
Rule number 2: Give the voters a reason to voter against your opponent(s).
Rule number 3: See rules number one and two.
And, in the end, the BEST they could say about him was: At LEAST he is better than Obama.
There ya go!
Yeah, I’ve heard that but when challenged to present one difference of any substance you’ll get a lot of stammering or silence.
” let those of us still living in America and fighting for our lives do so without you expats chiding us “
No one is chiding you. As slick would say, “I feel your pain.”
Every freedom loving American, however, should bone up on expiating. It is not a disgrace to leave when a country is going down the tubes and taken over by Marxist.
Just remember, the founding fathers were expats.
There is no one on this forum that can affect what will happen there. America’s fate is written in the wind, and another civil war will not change it. Sometimes one has to face facts, regardless of how nasty they may be. Everyone should have a plan of escape.
One question...What are you, or anyone else on here doing to change the course?
After looking at last years nightmare I would add :
1) Run after you are re-elected at least once
2) Governors are best candidates (if #1 applies) , house members are least likely to win. If your last elected job was being bounced out of office by voters or resigning under pressure then forget it, be a talk radio host or work for FNC..
3) Dont take positions in GOP primary that you wont defend in general election because its a loser and just sends out mixed confusing signals AFTER you lose. Take the positions you believe in and defend coherently.
4) If you got a Weiner problem dont convince yourself you will get lucky and it wont come out.
Dont think that being a partial term Senator with no experience governing will get you elected just because Obama got elected, you are not a black Democrat running after GWB eight years in 2008.
“What would you call the re-election of Clinton?”
An early warning sign of what I have said.
I like this list. Good stuff and good write-up.
2 posted on Monday, January 11, 2010
“...4) If you got a Weiner problem dont convince yourself you will get lucky and it wont come out. ...”
If you don’t stick your Weiner out in the first place, nothing will HAVE to come out.
If you DO stick your Weiner out, IMMEDIATELY claim it was a “wardrobe malfunction”.
If the “wardrobe malfunction” excuse fails, just say “This Weiner was sticking out before I took office...”
No one in political history won running the duplicitous campaign Obama ran on then......and the massive voter fraud in 2012.
The candidate in 2008 who "said" he wanted to be another "Reagan" is not the individual we see in the WH now....tearing down what remains of our nation and decimating the once-powerful US economic engine.
So we got a terrorist alert with all those embassies closed and Obama yuking it up on Jay Leno telling us to relax and party on because he has everything under control.
Does this smell or what?
Smoke screen for scandals.
I have fewer.
1. BE AMERICAN. (this has nothing to do with where a person is born)
2. HONOR and UPHOLD the CONSTITUTION
3. BE CONSERVATIVE
4. If you think you are GOD or that there is NO GOD, then don;t bother to run at all.................
Very calculated strategy to save 2014 for Dems
Of course, though most would’ve been astonished to learn of her opting not to run, despite it clearly being her turn. Cruz seems serious for 2016 (or to the point, has not shot down any entreaties for him to run). Although I tended to subscribe to the belief that they should be a former Governor, there are exceptions to the rule when some Senators (or others) demonstrate exceptional leadership skills. Go back even to Warren Harding, who was more a Senate backbencher (who lost a run for Ohio Governor), turned out to be a fairly excellent President who resolved the Wilson Depression of 1920 VERY fast.
Is there one (or more) candidate(s) you’re particularly leaning towards ?
In 2008 Obama ran on ‘hope and change’
In 2012 Obama ran on :
‘if you are not white and rich the GOP has a bullseye on your back. They will starve you, deny you health care and will force you to make babies who starve while they laugh at your misery. Vote for ME or die a painful slow death.’
Fortunately for him the GOP seemed to play along in some cases.
Have an unshakable and demonstrably lifelong commitment that the Presidency serves the people and that the power of the office derives from them and the Constitution; That doing the right thing for the country may not always be the best thing for you personally; that America is still and will always be the best hope for freedom and prosperity in the world; that the function of government should be small and unobtrusive; that what individuals own, produce and earn is their's first, and the government has no right to take it and give it to someone else. That individuals are empowered to pursue life, liberty and happiness, not to be watched over, coddled and farmed as some resource.
Jon McCain’s opponent wasn’t obama; it was John McCain.
And while some of these rules make sense, the article taken as a whole smells of Karl Rove and the Expedients.
You win an election by getting more votes than your opponent. All the strategizing and planning is a waste of time if it doesn’t deliver votes. And you earn votes because your ideas, your plans, and your principles align with a greater number of voters than your opponent’s. If that is NOT true, then you deserve to lose, and the voters deserve your opponent.
Most here but not me..
Back as far as Spring 2011 I was posting here that Palin had zero intention of running in 2012.
Making believe you are running for POTUS or ‘seriously thinking about it’ brings many benefits for those desiring attention. Look at Trump.
The reason why I was sure that she was not running when mostly everyone else was SO sure she was is because she was allowed to stay working for FNC as a political commentator the whole year while Newt and Rick were told to resign in early 2011 by FNC management. They knew.
There was no way FNC would have kept her on if she was considering it, instead they let or encouraged her to tease about on Greta to pull her (FNC) ratings up knwoing full well she wasnt.
Nuts on the right?
There are NO candidates right now. My Palin example for this was intended to illustrate how she was called a ‘candidate’ thousands of times here over a couple of years when she really wasnt., But many swore she was especially to me.(Iowa trip, NH, Bus tour, passion video, ...all solid proof LOL)
Once again going against the flow, my list was not intended to define who I will ‘like the best’. It was a list of what the GOP needs as a strong candidate to beat a Dem. I found last years line-up very weak and in many cases flawed, perfect for Obama.
Now a candidate might appear who meets all those conditions but has positions I disagree with. Like what if Christie does everything on that list? That wouldnt work for me.
“And you earn votes because your ideas, your plans, and your principles align with a greater number of voters than your opponents”
That is why RINO candidates like Mitt Romney live and die by polls .... and hiring advisors who obssess over polls that purport to tell them what their candidates’ principles should be, week by week, as they chase voting blocs
Being unprincipled works for democrats whose voting blocs care only about the letter “D” by the name on the ballot
but hasn’t worked yet for a republican, never will
As the summer came to a close the doubters grew and grew and the Palinistas came up with many crazy explainations around the above.
One favorite was that Palin hated her employer FNC so much and so she would spit in their face by simply announcing a run and quitting FNC at the same time ~ in Fall of 2011. Yep, that would be a blast to watch since near end of summer FNC stopped talking about her ‘possibly running’ and instead focused on the actual candidates. How dare they do that? It would be sooo sweet to see her publicly diss them like that.
This far out, we have to start touting or drafting. Ain’t like the old days when you could run in the same year as the election. When I refer to “candidates”, I’m talking of the prospective ones, of course. I don’t hesistate to vet potential ones at this point, as they should be.
re: #71: Sarah Palin’s career was not damaged. The damage was done by the McCainiacs, who were terrified of her ability to connect with the American people and tell them the truth. So, they muzzled her.
In addition, the McCainiacs worked hand and glove with the LIEberal press to ensure that she did not overshadow McNasty.
And since McNasty’s testicles were locked up, Ophonybama and the LIEberals made mince meat of the Republicans.
Run, Sarah! Run!
Rule ZZ: Be able to articulate why a smaller government is important. Do not simply say, "A smaller government means more freedom to you, the people!" That's not enough. We need to make one of our core principles tangible for the common man.
How about one general catch all rule: be a true conservative! The rest will fall into place.
This isn’t rocket science.