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I recently had a friend from Australia ask me how Donald Trump would perform in the debates against Hillary Clinton. Like many others on Ricochet, I imagined that it will be a “
Yumongous Humongous Cringe-fest.” But after examining the evidence and replying to the question, I started to realise America might be overlooking some of Trump’s debate skills.
Trump’s current perception is of a “buffoonish-jock” in the locker room, flicking his wet towel towards the puny kid for guffaws from his chums. And between bragging about his “flicking-prowess” he repeats that “We don’t win at towel-flicking anymore.” No one expected him to get this far, but he has. With such a low bar already set, it’s going to be extremely easy to exceed expectations. Trump has already made the political pivot, but it’s seldom reported outside of his vicinity. If opening a pickle jar is the only fitness test required to prove vitality, Trump presenting a convincing argument on a televised debate watched by millions might outdo that. To many people, just doing better than expected could sway opinion, even if it’s just a tiny amount.
Foreign Policy As The Game Changer
In prior debate cycles, foreign policy is one of the main pillars of topics. As a former secretary of state, Clinton might try to view this subject as easy fodder from
sympathetic supportive moderators. However, if current Trump speeches are any indication, her failures in office could work to Trump’s advantage.
No Shenanigans Please, I’m Trump
Unlike Mitt Romney, who never swung back, Trump will fight the moderators. Having frequently alleged media bias, any deliberate attempt by a moderator to jump in and save Clinton, or asking a loaded or “gotcha” question, will work in Trump’s favour. If Trump is even close to being bamboozled, the moderators run the risk of becoming his Reaganesque “Nasuha Moment.” Even something as simple as asking “Why aren’t you asking Hillary this question?” and presenting the disparaging facts as to why they never will may do the trick. If Trump throws her off-balance enough, she might wander into the territory Ted Cruz did during his “New York Values” remark.
It’s All News To Some People
Presidential debate audiences are not merely political junkies. Many of them are like those who watch the Kentucky Derby once a year without knowing any of the nuances of horse racing. They couldn’t tell you who trained the horse or the jockey riding it, but become complete racing experts from the moment the starting gates open and the race finishes. These are the people who form mass opinions based solely on who won the Debate, not on the facts. This is the forum for people who don’t watch filtered news and where Trump has the ability to mention details unflattering to Clinton. He only needs to plant some doubt in the minds of this segment of the American public and for them to reconsider him over Clinton.
On that last point of doubt, that’s where Trump thrives. We’ve already seen Trump bilk enormous amounts of free publicity, yet we keep forgetting he’s been playing the media like a “Stradivarius-Stratocaster” for years even before he ran for office. Like when he skipped the Iowa Fox Debate to raise funds for veterans that depending on who you talk to, didn’t even do that. Yet Trump knows he’s playing to a large audience, which for him is where the real magic of manipulation begins.Published in