In the green corner, we have Donald Trump. In the blue corner, Hillary Clinton. They will square off on Monday (26 September 2016) in their first televised debate. Clinton has been practicing and studying hard. Trump, opting for the non-traditional route, has instead been trying to find someone (and probably using his foundation’s money to pay them) to defeat his son’s Skittle® Riddle so he can eat the damned things.
This first debate features Lester Holt as moderator, and it takes place in Hempstead, New York, at Hofstra University (motto: Je maintiendrai, which is French). The topics will be the direction of the nation, how to achieve prosperity, and how to maintain security.
One expects Clinton to be well versed on the issues, prepared for almost anything (even for Trump quitting the race mid-debate). She knows Trump’s policy proposals better than he does, at this point. She’s had strong debate practice, both in ’08 against then-Senator Obama, and this year against Senator Sanders.
People question “which Trump” will show up. I haven’t seen any firm numbers on that, but I’m pretty sure there’s just one Trump. People have surely figured out that him acting nice on a stage and Trump-like on the trail is just the two-faced nature of this guy. That is, I don’t think Trump gains anything by acting any particular way, except maybe from the press. The press seems to think it’s an asset of Trump’s to be able to wait until after the debate to brag-tweet about not calling Clinton “Crooked Hillary” (“Lincoln, eat your heart out!”).
Trump’s only real debate experience at this level is his involvement as one of the leaders of the Birther movement, the movement to somehow disprove the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii. The primary debates, while entertaining, were mostly about him sniping other candidates and then letting the throng beg the moderators to let them respond.
Trump will tell us how tough he’ll be on ISIL, and Clinton will ask him how he can be tough on them when all they’ll need is his tax returns in order to assure his capitulation to their wants. Trump will claim he’ll be the law-and-order president, Clinton will point out that racism is not a viable strategy for dealing with economic problems or criminal justice reform.
They’ll both say they’ll create lots of jobs. Trump will say he’ll do it by reducing trade (which ignores the loss of export jobs), Clinton by increasing government programs and fostering investment. On the direction of the country, Trump will say he’ll make America great again. Clinton will say we should all move forward together. In other words, some slogans.
Will there be any big surprise of the debate? Will one of the candidates spontaneously combust? Will Trump, by virtue of appearing on the same stage, look presidential? Will his supposed unpredictability help him or harm him? Who will win?
We’ll see Monday. Trump should probably have practiced.