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Competence and warmth are two important dimensions for evaluating other persons (stereotype content model). In his infamous "47%" speech to wealthy donors, Romney explained that his goal is to undermine the competence of President Obama. He conceded that he cannot win on warmth.

We speak with voters across the country about their perceptions. Those people I told you, the 5 to 6 or 7 percent that we have to bring onto our side, they all voted for Barack Obama four years ago. So, and by the way, when you say to them, "Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?" they overwhelmingly say no. They like him. But when you say, "Are you disappointed in his policies that haven't worked?" they say yes. And because they voted for him, they don't want to be told that they were wrong, that he's a bad guy, that he did bad things, that he's corrupt. Those people that we that have to get, they want to think they did the right thing but he just wasn't up to the task. They love the phrase, "He's in over his head."
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How do you undermine perceived competence? In yesterday's debate, Paul Ryan gave a preview of what we might see in the next Presidential debate. The approach involves posing very specific quantitative (numbers) questions in the hope that one's opponent does not know the answer. Here's an example:

REP. RYAN: Joe and I are from similar towns.

He's from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I'm from Janesville, Wisconsin. You know what the unemployment rate in Scranton is today?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: I sure do.

REP. RYAN: It's 10 percent.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yeah.

REP. RYAN: You know what it was the day you guys came in?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: No.

REP. RYAN: Eight-point-five percent.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yeah.

So, how do you defend against this? I think a good response to such an attempt at public humiliation would be to reply: "47%". This would be funny and put the focus back on Romney, reminding viewers of his appalling comments and making salient the warmth dimension.
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