Beating Trump In Debate

From:,  by Peter Spillakos,  on Feb 16, 2016,  see the article HERE.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

NOTE: This article was apparently written before the February 13th debate in South Carolina and published on February 16. Mr. Spillakos’ strategy wasn’t followed until last night’s debate (Feb. 25th in Houston). But Rubio and Cruz must’ve read his article in between because they did attack last evening as if it were a wrestling match. Garnet92.

Easy for me to say. I have a little bit of advice for Cruz and Rubio tomorrow when it comes to defeating Trump. Some of the advice is tactical, but the more important advice is strategic. Attack Trump early, relentlessly, on everything, and never, ever stop.

The tactical advice is that you should stop saying that Trump is for single-payer. That is too bloodless. Say that Trump was for a government-owned, and government-rationed, health-care monopoly. Also, try to work in the argument that Trump would give us the corruption of the Clintons with the huge government of Bernie Sanders.

But that isn’t going to be enough. People aren’t for or against Trump based on his health-care ideas (and to be honest, hardly anyone is in favor of any Republican based on that Republican’s health-care ideas — more is the pity). If you are going to beat Trump, you have to be seen to beat Trump. And it isn’t enough to be seen as beating Trump by the journalists who already don’t like him. You need to make Trump supporters acknowledge that you beat Trump down in the same way that Mitt Romney made Gingrich supporters acknowledge Gingrich’s debate defeat right before the 2012 Florida primary.

This reminds me of a pro-wrestling story. I think it is about the former world champion Lou Thesz. Even in the mid 1900s, most people knew wrestling was fixed, and local tough guys would sometimes challenge Thesz to fights.

Thesz was a in a fake sport, but he was a legitimate fighter and could take these guys down, but he had a strategy for discouraging challenges. Thesz believed that if you just pinned a guy or made him submit, the guy would eventually talk himself into thinking that he almost won, and the word would get around town that the fake wrestling champion wasn’t so tough. Thesz believed that if you really wanted to win the fight, you had to deal your opponent an injury so severe that he would feel it for the rest of his life. That way, when people saw the guy who challenged you on crutches, they would know not to make the same mistake.

Many of Trump’s fans are like that guy challenging Thesz. Even if Trump gets the worse of any particular exchange, they will talk themselves into thinking that Trump won a moral victory because he took on political correctness or something.

This means you don’t beat Trump with a zinger. You beat him by breaking him apart over the course of the two-hour debate. You don’t come in with one line of attack. You come in with ten or twelve and you don’t stop. Don’t be like Jeb Bush and let him interrupt you. Don’t let the moderator interrupt you either. If Trump starts complaining, don’t be above saying that his daddy’s money won’t get him out of this fight. Don’t be afraid to mock him, and mock his tactics — even before he uses them. Say that he can turn red, and stomp his feet, scream profanities, and even cry, but he won’t stop you from telling the truth about him.

Above all, don’t stop. If the early debates from this cycle are any indication, if Trump is hit often enough, he will eventually try to shy away from contact and try to present himself as more humane. You might think that you made your point, but you didn’t. His supporters will just tell themselves that Trump really won because he survived. You have to keep pummeling him until his supporters — and even his critics — feel bad for him. You’ve won the debate only when the most lasting memory of Trump is the look on his face as you kick him while he is down.


The Texas debate was unusual in that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz finally chose to fight fire with fire. Until this debate, Donald Trump had dictated the terms of engagement for the debates. He constantly interrupted and spoke over the other candidates and spent quite a bit of his vocal time talking during another’s candidate’s response time – he wasn’t playing by the assumed rules of courtesy, he was playing by his own set of “rules.”

Last night that changed. In particular, Rubio attacked Trump using the same tactics that Trump had previously used on everyone else. It did appear to fluster Mr. Trump since it came as a surprise. Cruz used some Trump techniques as well, but not as effectively as Rubio did. It may not get Rubio any more votes, but it certainly was gratifying to see Trump’s own tactics used against him. As a result, many believe that the debate was not a good one for Trump since he spent a good deal of the debate trying to defend himself instead of attacking. He was outside his comfort zone and it showed.


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4 Responses to Beating Trump In Debate

  1. Uriel says:

    Too late unfortunately. Had either been as pointed in the past, more would have come out and possibly Trump would not gained such a lead.

  2. tannngl says:

    And the attacks have continued into Friday from both Cruz and Rubio. But alas, Trump brought the media to attention with Christy announcing his support for Trump…
    Trump sure commands the media.

  3. Terry says:


    DRUDGE : Trump 53.8%……Cruz 17.9%…..Rubio 12.8%

    NEWSMAX : Trump 72%….Rubio 12 %….Cruz 10%

    TIME : Trump 69%….Rubio 21%….Cruz 4%

    INDEPENDENT JOURNAL : Trump 72%….Rubio 12%….Cruz 10%

    I guess they showed Ol’ Donald a thing or two.

  4. CW says:

    I love this post, Garnet. Spillakos understands how you go after a candidate like Trump. He also understands what we’re up against:

    >>”Even if Trump gets the worse of any particular exchange, [his fans] will talk themselves into thinking that Trump won a moral victory because he took on political correctness or something.”

    So true! Those who vote for the cult of personality aren’t known for their objectivity. We saw it in 2012 when polls showed that Obama supposedly beat Romney in their debate, and we’re seeing it now. Some Trump voters will giddily point to unscientific, “click here” polls at Drudge, Time and Newsmax to validate their support and loyalty for a big-government ‘Republican.’ That’s the state of things in this race. Unfortunately Uriel’s right that it may be too late.