Bush, Gore will need to copy each other, experts say

By KEN HERMAN

Cox News Service

BOSTON — Here’s what the experts say to watch for if you are scoring at home during tonight’s presidential debate:

Give a point to Democratic nominee Al Gore anytime he seems to have some of GOP foe George W. Bush’s better qualities. Do the same for Bush when he shows he has a bit of Gore.

Each candidate needs a bit of what the other candidate has, say political rhetoric experts Rita Whillock and Wayne Fields.

They say that Bush, generally perceived as the likeable guy with whom you’d like to have lunch, has to show he is up to speed on policy and issues. And Gore, generally perceived as the kid who reminds the teacher she forgot to give homework, has to continue the effort to burn down his wooden image.

"Gore has to convey the qualities most people associate with Bush and vice versa," Fields said.

"People didn’t like Gore and they thought of him as wooden," said Whillock. "Everybody liked Bush. It wasn’t a likability issue. It was a policy issue."

Neither candidate will accomplish his goals with a single answer or gesture, according to Scott Reed, the GOP strategist who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. "Rarely is there a knockout punch in a debate," he said.

If you are a decided voter, your opinion won’t count in scoring the debate. History shows that — short of a major gaffe — if you like Gore now, you will score him as tonight’s winner. Ditto for Bush backers.

Your undecided neighbor is another matter. Polls indicate the Nov. 7 election could be decided by the roughly 10 percent of the electorate that is undecided five weeks out.

Score points for Bush, according to Fields, anytime he can "convey something more than warmth and charm."

"He is not expected to have the kind of mastery of the subjects that Gore has because he has been a governor, not a vice president," Fields said. "He has got to make it clear he has the intellectual capacity to handle these kinds of things, that he is substantial enough to be a president."

GOP consultant Reed, who is not affiliated with the Bush campaign, said Gore may have to work a bit to overcome his natural inclinations.

"He has a tendency to overshoot the runway in these things and allow his sarcasm to drip off of every word and sound like he is preaching down to everyone," Reed said. "Gore is a natural-born killer when it comes to debates. They are going to have him on doggy downers. He needs to be relaxed and not overhyper."

When it’s over tonight, to figure out who won, count up the times Bush has seemed knowledgeable and the times Gore has seemed likeable and declare a winner.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mel Jennings sits in his structure during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Mel has had a brain and spinal surgery, and currently has been homeless for a year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Annual homeless count aims to give snapshot of housing crisis

Volunteers set out into the rain Tuesday to count all the people facing homelessness in central Everett.

Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Lawmakers push to boost voting in county jails across the state

A House bill envisions an approach similar to what’s been happening in the Snohomish County Jail for several years.

Vandalism at Seaview Park on Jan. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Edmonds Police Department)
Police seek suspects in repeated vandalism at Edmonds parks

Vandals have done over $10,000 of damage to parks across the city, including suspected arson and graffiti with hate speech.

One worker looks up from the cargo area as another works in what will be the passenger compartment on one of the first Boeing 787 jets as it stands near completion at the front of the assembly line, Monday, May 19, 2008, in Everett, Wash. The plane, the first new Boeing jet in 14 years, is targeted for power on in June followed by an anticipated first flight sometime late in 2008.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits

The company confirmed in depositions that parts of its Everett plant still don’t meet 2010 standards.

CarlaRae Arneson, of Lynnwood, grabs a tea press full of fresh tea from Peanut the server robot while dining with her 12-year-old son Levi at Sushi Hana on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. CarlaRae said she and her son used to visit the previous restaurant at Sushi Hana’s location and were excited to try the new business’s food. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Peanut the robot waitress is on a roll at Lynnwood’s Sushi Hana

She’s less RoboCop and more Rosey as she patrols the restaurant, making sure everyone has a drink and good time.

K-9 Hobbs and Sgt. Jason Robinson pose for a photo after Hobbs’ retirement ceremony at the Edmonds Police Department in Edmonds, Washington on Thursday Jan. 26, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Police dog Hobbs retires after nearly 10 years on the Edmonds force

The German shepherd had 520 deployments, 166 arrests and 113 evidence finds with his handler, Sgt. Jason Robinson.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown and the victim of a brutal attack in 2018 answer questions from reporters on Jan. 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
White supremacists sentenced for racist beating at Lynnwood bar

A federal judge handed out stiffer sentences than prosecutors had asked for in a series of sentencing hearings Friday.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville State of the City address set for Feb. 1

Mayor Jon Nehring will highlight 2022 accomplishments and look to the future. Questions from the audience will follow.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
A move to require voting and a bicameral chasm on vehicle pursuits

It’s Day 19 and the mood is heating up as the third week of the 2023 legislative session comes to an end.

Most Read