3 Things Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro Must Do to Shine During Democratic Debate

Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro finally have their moment to shine.On Wednesday they are part of the first batch of 10 Democratic presidential candidates at the party's first debate in Miami.Most notably, the Texans will share the stage with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She leads them in the polls.And on Thursday the next batch of 10 will include former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.Since Warren is the only leading contender on tap for Wednesday night, O'Rourke and Castro have the chance to stand out.Here's what they need to do to have an impact.Own the immigration issueWith Texas being a border state, O'Rourke and Castro must be able to be the leading authorities on issues related to immigration.The crisis involving migrant families at the border is front and center, so the Texans should be able to use their expertise on such matters to stand out from the pack.Both candidates have immigration plans. So do their rivals.But in the past O'Rourke has gotten traction by passionately framing the case for a compassionate, sensible immigration policy.And Castro was the first major candidate to develop an immigration plan. He's also the only Hispanic candidate on the stage.Immigration won't be the only issue discussed Wednesday night, but it will probably get the most media attention and the Texans need to take advantage.Carve out the middle groundThere's a fierce fight for support from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Warren and Sanders are leading in the most liberal lanes, leaving the middle ground to Biden.Since they are matched up with Warren, O'Rourke and Castro have the chance to appeal to moderate Democrats that have more in common with Biden.Both Texans have a record of working with moderates and Republicans. And though their policies are similar to the rest of the Democratic pack, they have the ability to cast themselves as candidates that could bridge the nation's divide.Right now Biden is all alone in the moderate lane, so there's room for a Texan to try that path.Avoid a major gaffe, while showcasing knowledge of issuesSince O'Rourke and Castro are trailing in the polls, there's little room for error on the debate stage.In 2012 the "oops moment," when then Texas Gov. Rick Perry couldn't remember the name of an agency he would cut if elected president, killed his chances to win the GOP presidential nomination.O'Rourke and Castro can't afford any gaffes. Instead, they must prove to be experts on the issues, while coming across as interesting and likeable.For his Senate contest against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, O'Rourke used his charisma and oratory skills to become the most popular Democrat in Texas. He'll need to show the rest of the nation that same kind of flair.Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and Housing secretary, is not as charismatic. Yet, he must be able to inject some personality into his answers, or he'll remain mired low in the polls.  Continue reading...

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