In light of tonight’s debates, it is probably worth revisiting the advice Patrick Muttart, a top advisor to Stephen Harper, once provided to British Tory leader David Cameron.
In the documents, Mr Muttart says Mr Cameron should ‘practise staring down Brown while the camera is focused on the moderators, other leaders. Makes your opponent feel uncomfortable’. But he adds that when Mr Cameron is ‘attacking/rebutting’ he should ‘look at his opponent’s shoulder and not his face. Facial reactions can be distracting/destabilising’.
Personal attacks, meanwhile, should be ‘well-timed and well-constructed’ but used infrequently ‘for the biggest impact’. Most of Mr Muttart’s advice is listed under a section entitled ‘key presentation points’. It states: ‘Ensure Cameron has room-temperature water. Cold water (with ice) tightens the throat. You should control his water – not the TV studio. ‘When Brown/Clegg is addressing Cameron he should not write notes. To viewers it looks rude.’
He also urges Mr Cameron to ‘use viable, easy-to-understand solutions versus abstract ideological musings’.