Running for Office – Tip 8: Know What You’re Talking About

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Tip #8. Know what you are talking about.

Early in my career I was watching a debate among several candidates running for office of Mayor of New York City.

The candidates were asked what measures they would take to help the poor, to which one responded that he would abolish the sales tax on bread. There was a problem with that response. New York had abolished the sales tax on bread a hundred years before. The candidate looked like a fool who had not bothered to do his homework.

This year, there a plenty of examples of candidates who fell short. Herman Cain flubbed a question on Libya, and given that we had just invaded the country and deposed its long time leader, it quickly became clear that Herman was not as well prepared as he should have been.

Governor Perry’s oops moment in his debate in which he could not recall the three agencies he planned to eliminate was the beginning of the end of his Presidential aspirations.

Which illustrates the point. Voters don’t know everything. They won’t necessarily expect you to know everything, but they will expect you to know certain fundamental things about the job you are seeking. They will expect you to be able to be clear in your rationale and how you intend to accomplish the things you propose to do.

Before you step outside your front door as a candidate, make sure you are well versed in issues that are likely to be discussed during the campaign. Look at what other candidates are discussing. Study the topics that were raised in the previous race. Know your facts. Take time in the morning to read the newspapers and opinion columns before you leave the house to face a TV camera.

If you are blindsided by a question and know nothing about the subject, it is better to say that you are still studying the issue rather than blather a bunch of gibberish in front of a TV camera or pretend to a reporter that you know what you are talking about when you don’t.

I know this might seem fundamental, but every year I see good candidates get derailed because they say things that are not true, or state as fact things that aren’t or can’t answer basic questions that affect the lives of everyday voters.

With all the material that is available on line, and the newspapers that can be read for free, there is no excuse for not having done your homework.

 

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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