The Things That Donald And Hillary Need To Do Tonight

It’s finally here, the cage match of the century. Politico notes

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will debate for 90 minutes on Monday. But the winner likely will be determined in the first half-hour.

That’s when Al Gore first sighed, Mitt Romney knocked President Obama on his heels, and Marco Rubio, earlier this year, glitched in repeating the same talking point — over and over and over. It’s when Gore tried, unsuccessfully, to invade George W. Bush’s space, Richard Nixon was first caught wiping away sweat with a handkerchief (during the moderators’ introductions!) and Gerald Ford in 1976 made the ill-advised declaration that, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.”

Veteran presidential debate coaches and campaign strategists say the tone and trajectory of general election debates have long been set in their opening minutes, and that the explosion of real-time spin and Twitter groupthink has only accelerated the trend.

Those first 30 minutes are when people are really listening and watching. So, what do Hillary and Donald need to do during those 30 minutes? USA Today offers separate articles on the 4 things each candidate needs to do. Starting with Hillary

  1. Play offense – they think she needs to excite the base, who, so far, is utterly unexcited and barely show up for her tiny events.
  2. Be more likable – She needs to be less snarky and more humorous and warm. Well, good luck with that.
  3. Outline a positive vision – Other than showing her supposed work for children, her campaign has been primarily negative towards Trump. Will that change?
  4. Go off script – people think she’s too scripted. Do not expect that to change.
  5. Have a compelling answer about Iraq and Syria – As USA Today notes, voters are very leery of Middle East policy judgement, and Trump constantly talks about her bad judgement. Her best bet here is to provide answers that will not allow Trump to utterly hit her back.

Missing from the list is to show people that she’s not sick, frail, and low energy. And, really, the #1 thing Hillary needs to do is to not allow Trump to get her off her game. He was tremendous at this during the GOP debates against politicians who knew better and had experience, and he still did it.

As for the 5 things for Trump

  1. Meet the presidential threshold – he needs to appear and act presidential. Keep his cool. This debate is not for his base, this is for all the rest of the Republicans who are not as enthused, as well as the independents.
  2. Play good defense – this is interesting. USA Today is expecting that Trump will be asked questions on his Birtherism, alleged ties to Russia, etc. They didn’t offer the same advice to Hillary, who has considerably worse scandals.
  3. Stay on the attack – they say he needs to impeach Hillary’s so-called qualifications. That won’t be all that hard, not with 100 million people watching.
  4. Manage a one-on-one debate – he’s going to have to talk longer and manage the interaction between just him and Hillary.
  5. Effectively handle the gender dynamic – in other words, he can’t appear sexist by bullying her the same way he did with male opponents, because fragile Hillary needs to be protected, you guys!

What Trump needs to do is have a nice, even debate. Do not go for the knockout punch, and be careful when Hillary gives him an opening, because it could be a set-up. The idea here is to not lose. A tie or a slight win for Trump would be a big loss for Hillary. He should calmly discuss how bad her policies have worked. The failures in Libya and Benghazi. How she put her personal convenience over national security with her email. Her general failures in the Middle East as Sec of State. And so much more. And show energy and vitality to Hillary’s low energy.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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