The Ticket

‘Top Line’: Debate do’s and don’ts

The Ticket

The remaining four Republicans vying to challenge President Barack Obama in the fall gather on a debate stage Wednesday for the first time in several weeks — and the last time before Super Tuesday.

There's a lot on the line for each of these guys — and in this week's 'Top Line,' ABC's Rick Klein and Yahoo! News White House correspondent Olivier Knox offer the candidates some unsolicited advice.

Rick Santorum arguably has the most on the line. He's never really been at the center of these debates, having only risen to the level of a serious challenger in recent weeks. What should he do?

Santorum: Go blue or go home. Santorum should lean hard on his blue collar roots, a good way to connect with Michigan voters.

Mitt Romney: pick a fight with someone...anyone.  Romney can't afford to lose the Feb 28 Michigan primary and recent polls have shown Santorum on the rise in Romney's home state.  So, Romney needs to look strong and presidential and assure his party base that he has what it takes to take on President Obama.

But don't go placing $10,000 bets, Governor. That move in a previous debate, and other debate clunkers, have shown you to be out of touch with middle class Americans.

Newt Gingrich:  This maybe your last chance, but of course we've said that before. Gingrich has to make some noise, perhaps attack the media, his frequent target, rattle Romney and shake up Santorum. If he has another ho-hum debate performance, he could be done.

And Ron Paul -- you're still a long shot, but are you fighting to challenge the party's orthodoxy and tweak its establishment, or looking to influence the convention's speaking schedule? Without any debate missteps, you'll be doing all of that.


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