Last-Minute Debate Advice for the Republican Presidential Candidates

Act presidential. Get over yourself. And don't talk about your sex life.

The 2016 GOP presidential contenders stand on the stage prior to the Voters First Presidential Forum for Republicans at Saint Anselm College on August 3, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (National Journal)

Time now for our lightning round: What do the 10 leading Republican presidential candidates need to do in Thursday's debate, the first of a volatile 2016 cycle?

Donald Trump: Act presidential. Your Washington-is-stupid shtick strikes a chord with angry voters because it's true — and lord knows how far you can ride it if you don't rub people's faces in your buffoonery.

Jeb Bush: Get over yourself. You're the son of one president and the brother of another, a man of great privilege and advantages — so, dammit, stop tripping over the family question.

Scott Walker: Be real. Your Midwest roots and record would be greater assets if you weren't so associated with talking points and flip-flops.

Mike Huckabee: Relocate your sense of shame. I've known you longer than you've been in politics, Governor, and yet I barely recognize the desperate and cynical man who accuses our president of leading Jews to the oven door.

Ben Carson: See Huckabee. You're arguably the most accomplished person in either presidential field, but your inflammatory comments about gays (saying prison proves homosexuality is a choice), the Obama administration (comparing it to Nazi Germany), and Obamacare (comparing it to slavery) are as damaging to your campaign as your aides continuously warn you they are.

Ted Cruz: Do you. If Trump plays against type and acts even a wee bit presidential, you'll have a clear field upon which to pander, demonize, and divide.

Marco Rubio: Be a grown up. Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008 defied worries about their youth and inexperience by steadily growing into the role of president. The stage is now yours.

Rand Paul: Wake up. After raising expectations for a coalition-busting candidacy, you seem to have been swallowed up by caution and a crowded field.

Chris Christie: Just say no. The next time you get the urge to tell us about your sex life: Don't.

John Kasich: Don't be a jerk. On paper, you're nearly the perfect candidate — but paper easily crumbles and burns.