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National should avoid appearing 'patronising' in combating the charisma of Jacinda Ardern - political commentator

The National Party should be wary they don't appear "patronising" in combating the charisma of Jacinda Ardern, an Auckland politics professor has cautioned.

Political commentator Grant Duncan looks at the outcome from yesterday's election launch. Source: Breakfast

Speaking to Jack Tame on TVNZ1's Breakfast today, Massey University political associate professor Grant Duncan said the National Party needs to carefully plan out how Bill English engages with Ardern, and her skyrocketing popularity, so it doesn't reflect badly on them.

"I think they've really got some thinking to do. They've definitely got an interesting race ahead of them," Mr Duncan said.

"They'll be thinking very carefully now for instance about how Bill English performs in a head to head debate with Jacinda - that's going to be an interesting event. So, it's most important that they get those messages spot on.

Asked by Tame how do you "cobmat charisma", Mr Duncan admitted it will be a challenge for them because a popular Labour leader hasn't been a threat for some time. 

"They haven't had this kind of opponent before so they'll be really having to think carefully about how they front up and how they challenge this without appearing to be patronising, or just mean."

The comments from Duncan come after, what he described as, a "visionary" Labour campaign launch over the weekend which signaled both child poverty and climate change as specific focuses of a potential Labour Government.