There is an adage in the political profession: The one, running for office, who determines the campaign agenda is the one who wins the election.

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In 1980 Reagan won because the question foremost on voters’ minds was who could best revive the economy, increase energy supplies and win the cold war. Mr. Reagan framed the election that way because he was the obvious answer.

In 1988, George Bush 41 won because he successfully framed the election as a referendum on who would best maintain prosperity, crack down on crime and keep taxes down.

This year Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are framing the election on very different terms.

Mr. Trump defines it a referendum on who will best secure our borders, stop illegal immigration, and upend the culture of Washington.

Mrs. Clinton calls it a referendum on who has the better temperament, knowledge and disposition to do the toughest job in world.

The one who wins this battle is the one who will win the election.

If you are running for office, or plan to run for office some day, this is how you do it:

#1. The choice for voters must be framed in very clear, stark, compelling language that voters easily grasp and comprehend.

#2. All of your rhetoric…every speech, every ad, every debate, every social media post should serve to define the election on your terms.

#3. During the final stage of a campaign, you must stay on message. A day off message is a day wasted. A day wasted is a day that will not come again. Time is the one commodity you can never get back in a campaign.

During the next three weeks it will be very easy to keep track of who is winning the battle in the Presidential contest.

Every day that Mr. Trump is not talking about immigration, taxes or terrorism is a day lost.

And count on Mrs. Clinton to spend the rest of the campaign talking about Mr. Trump’s temperament, judgment, maturity and disposition. She will get a lot of assistance from the mainstream media. In the last couple weeks she has also received a lot of help from Mr. Trump.

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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