POLITICO Playbook: DEBATE EVE: Josh Holmes gives his Playbook for the top 10

Politico Playbook

Mike Allen


Good Wednesday morning. JOSH HOLMES — former Mitch McConnell strategist, now president and founding partner of Cavalry LLC (“Cavalry is here”) — gives Playbook readers his take on each of tomorrow night’s prime-time debaters, in the order Fox’s polling-based rank for podium position and the opening questions: “1. Trump: The moment his candidacy ceases to be provocative, it’s over. Playbook: ‘Dance with the one who brung ya.’ … 2. Bush:He doesn’t need a memorable moment, but it sure would be nice to pop an aggressor in the mouth to show he’s got fight. Playbook: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. …

“3. Walker: Reinforce his blue-collar themes and avoid a stumble. Playbook: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. … 4. Huckabee: Cast aside the bomb-throwing and be the authentic, likeable Huck that won Iowa in ‘08. Playbook: sunshine warrior. … 5. Carson: He’s the only true outsider on the stage, and he’s there because people love his refreshing demeanor. Playbook: don’t get mud on the tires. … 6. Cruz: Needs to draw contrast with Trump for the anti-establishment vote without overdoing it. Playbook: Time of possession isn’t the same as the scoreboard. …

“7. Rubio: Best pure talent in the field but needs to show it on the big stage. Playbook: Don’t get lost in the crowd. … 8. Paul: The only thing that can hurt him here is an extended answer on foreign policy. Playbook: Rand Stand on domestic policy. … 9. Christie: Somebody is getting hit. If it’s Trump, get your popcorn ready. Playbook: Eat your Wheaties. … 10. Kasich: Everybody expects him to reinforce the narrative that he’s a jerk. Playbook: Bring the funny.”

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