Here’s a hypothetical look at how the candidates could win the hearts and minds of twentysomething voters like myself. (And even a glimpse at how Barack Obama, in an alternate universe, could be re-elected.)
Rick Perry: He’d have to tone down the “Praise Je-sus!!!” stuff significantly. Like, starting now. Trust me, the faithful already consider you a part of the team — now it’s time to convince the rest of us you are rational. Go on Bill Maher’s show — concede that maybe there’s something to climate change, evolution, or stem cell research. The religious zealots you’ve courted in Texas don’t watch his show anyway, so you don’t risk alienating them.
Also, kick some arse in a couple of the debates — convince us that those C’s and D’s in college were the result of having better things to do at the time, and not the result of mediocrity. Also, plug that Texas “thriving economy” every chance you get. That’s your ace in the hole. Voters want jobs and you have a track record of delivering them. (Even if they’re oil industry and minimum wage service sector jobs. A job’s better than no job.)
Donald Trump: You’d be amazed what can be achieved with a spirited online grassroots campaign… and a couple hundred million bucks in targeted advertising. Pull a Mike Bloomberg, except on a nationwide scale. Obama won the presidency primarily by tapping into the Internet’s youth vote and their boundless energy. He started as a relative unknown, whereas Trump starts off as a household name. Tone down the Obama bashing and begin talking to young people about how they don’t have to inherit loads of debt, high unemployment, etc. Be seen as the post-partisan candidate who thinks America has a second shot still, if only it’d start playing tough. (See my phone interview with Trump here.)
Sarah Palin: I hate to admit this publicly, but there are still many people in this country who like Sarah Palin — and would vote for her. I think she has some chance of positioning herself as a VP candidate again this time around. Those who voted for McCain/Palin in ’08 and are still sore about losing will see her presence on the ticket as a second chance to get a couple of their own into power.
Just stop talking for a while. Do something charitable, maybe. Pick a worthy charity — not some abstinence nonsense. The press can’t make fun of you for doing cancer fundraisers or fighting child poverty, for example. And use whatever backdoor channels are available to spread your name as a viable VP option.
Jon Huntsman: Keep doing your thing, and give them a fight during every interview, debate, or discussion you participate in. I personally find Huntsman’s distancing himself from the GOP/Tea Party’s pseudo-grasp of economics to be incredibly refreshing — and bold. I’m sure other young independent voters feel the same way. Huntsman doesn’t want to “end the Fed” — he wants to end the recession.
The quiet confidence, grey hair, and respectful demeanor — even when you’re trashing Obama! — are all very presidential, in my opinion, if not attention-grabbing. It’s OK not to be an attention whore. I think a lot of voters will find that inspiring, and a nice change from the past few years of partisan name-calling.
Finally… Barack Obama: With a stagnant economy, lingering high unemployment, and the S&P downgrade debacle still fresh in voters’ minds, I don’t think Obama would stand much chance of getting re-elected. BUT… If he were to say these things, he’d stand a very good chance of reigniting his base, and winning over independents like me.
Also, not sure who your terrible advisors are, Mr. President, but going on a posh vacation in Martha’s Vineyard when millions are unemployed or underwater on their mortgages doesn’t say “quiet calm of a President.” It says elitist and disconnected. Trump is right: you need to stop taking so much vacation time.
Too many Americans are on the unemployment line, and they will resent your expensive leisure time. Their struggle should become your struggle.
I’m not sure why you’re taking vacations that provide the perfect photo opp for caustic FOX News pundits. At least make FOX work for its money.
It makes no sense to me why you’re living it up in the Vineyard, polo shirt and golf swings — everything disenfranchised voters and Tea Party types have come to hate since the financial meltdown. Again, some of your advisors suck. That, or you simply aren’t listening to them.