Message is everything. That message must be focused and direct. This is my advice for Corina Robinson after seeing the Dakotafest debates. My advice to my speech students is to tell them what you are going to talk about, tell it to them, and then remind them what you told them. After watching the debate between Kristi Noem and Corina Robinson, I felt that Kristi Noem left too many softballs handing in the air, waiting to get knocked out, but Robinson only made partial contact.
One example of this is the first main question about Washington policy sustainability of South Dakota's landscape and rural towns. Noem speaks about the Farm bill, as should be expected, and needing to watch over the USDA. Here is the first softball. Robinson's answer tries to point out you have to be present at all the hearings (this is good) and that the need for compromise is key to protecting everyone to avoid things like letting the Farm bill expire (also good). Then she starts drifting off about people wanting to work hard in South Dakota and talking about teacher funding in the state. This drift makes her look a bit confused about the real issue and distracts from Noem failure to pass the Farm Bill on time and also how the government shut down was the key reason for delay in helping ranchers West River after the horrible storm.
I would have liked to have heard hear mention the failure of the farm bill, government shut down, and Noem mentioned at least 5 times in the message. I would have also like to have heard her drop some names. "John Boehnoer can come and raise money for Kristi, but it she can convince him to influence her part to pass a farm bill on time." "I would not have voted for Tom Cotton's amendment to pass when Jim Peterson from Minnesota said it would be a sign of betrayal and destroy all democratic votes for the bill."
Another example was the Highway Trust Fund. It was good to drop her experience of tackling highway infrastructure, she missed another opportunity to put Kristi on the defensive. I would have liked her to talk about that instead of wasting time over trying to repeal Obamacare and voting to sue the President, she would make sure that the Highway funding measure was not another stop gap action so that our bridges can be fixed and we are not the fourth worst state in the nation when it comes to structurally deficient bridges. (Susan Wismer, are you listening?) When Kristi Noem says that the Federal Government doesn't do its due diligence in making sure that the Highway Trust Fund is adequately funded, Robinson must jump on that and remind everyone that KRISTI NOEM IS THE GOVERNMENT NOT DOING THE JOB NEEDED.
Noem's answers contradict themselves (She argues for farm bill support for farmers and then says everything should stand on its own.) Noem left a lot of issues unanswered and avoided them in the debate. There were a lot of strong moments for Robinson in this debate; however, she must get more aggressive and must be near flawless if she hopes to defeat Noem.