Years ago I was working in my first Presidential campaign. The candidate running for office was viciously attacked by a political columnist, and I drafted a statement hitting back. When I gave it to my client for his review, he had a one word response, “No.” He then explained his rule, “Don’t Shoot Down.”

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Do not engage in fights that diminish your stature, or battles that are beneath your dignity, or squabbles that elevate the stature of a critic, or skirmishes that detract from the battle with your opponent. In fact, he said, don’t do anything that detracts from the message.

If you are running for office in a competitive race, you will take flack. Every day.  From somebody.

Voters do not judge your fitness for office by the number of bricks you throw back. Rather, they judge you by the way you handle the pressure, and your grace under fire. And it is on that basis that voters judge your character, maturity, fitness to hold the office, and to make judgment calls that affect the way they live.

Picking fights with every critic will not enhance your chances of winning an election.  Voters will assume you have thin skin, that you are easily thrown off course, and that you’ll spend your time in office engaging in frivolous feuds instead of working for them.

They may even conclude you don’t have the temperament required to do the job. When that happens it is very hard to get your campaign back on track.

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump emerged from the Republican Convention with a two point lead. This past weekend, two national polls showed him behind by double digits, badly trailing in several crucial swing states.

Mr. Trump now enjoys the satisfaction of starting several food fights the past couple weeks. It is also clear that a lot of voters did not like what they saw.

Have questions? Hit the comment button. Or email me at My phone number is 845-458-1210.

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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