How Trump Could Win With The Presidential Debates

 

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.

Exceeding Expectations

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.

Master Manipulator

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.

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  1. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    I look forward to the debates, especially after watching tonight’s limited version by NBC.

    Trump was on his game and the nit pickers are scrambling to make nits into nuclear bombs.

    If Trump is poised, and appears presidential, has some facts and says some things the audience did not know, appears to care about them with every answer, he will own it.

    Hillary is Hillary. Defensive, staged and stiff. All the moderators are lefties, so they will be covering her with drapes. (Yes, Chris Wallace is as democrat loyal as they come when it is important, and the Murdoch kids are rapidly making Fox the anti trump network. I expect they will ease out Hannity real soon. )

    The post is spot on.

    • #1
  2. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Great post.

    Have the debates been scheduled yet? Seems Hillary can’t say more than a few words these days without coughing up a lung – if there was a debate this weekend I think Trump would win in a walk.

    • #2
  3. rico Inactive
    rico
    @rico

    Those are some great observations.

    Trump starts out with one very substantial advantage: voters are looking for change. Trump is free to offer it; and Hillary is locked in to the Obama legacy of failure across the board.

    With everyone expecting Trumpian bombast, he will shock observers by coolly picking Hillary apart based on her own record. She will alternately drone on in lawyerly fashion and shriek in frustration while he calmly purrs his talking points.

    His foreign policy speech indicated that his team has led him to policies that will be easy for voters to embrace. He will score by contrasting them to HRC’s actual failed policies. She can’t hide from those. All of her attacks on Trump’s temperament, etc. will be rendered meaningless in light of her utter incompetence.

    • #3
  4. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Annefy:Great post.

    Have the debates been scheduled yet? Seems Hillary can’t say more than a few words these days without coughing up a lung – if there was a debate this weekend I think Trump would win in a walk.

    Whatever drugs they have for television must keep the cough down, at what price later I do not know. She did 30 minutes with Matt Lauer and the audience today and did not cough. She did squirm,, however.

    • #4
  5. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    clintoncoughs

    • #5
  6. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    She says her cough is an allergy to Trump-thoughts. Imagine what a full appearance will do. Better she stays home. Maybe sends Huma in her stead. Or Sidney Blumenthal.

    • #6
  7. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I drove to Baltimore to watch Reagan debate John Anderson in 1980.  He did much better a few weeks later when Jimmy Carter finally agreed to debate.  Reagan was not uniformly good in his responses in either debate but (a) when he was good, he was very good; (b) he remained eminently likable and respectful of opponents at all times and (c) the idiot MSM/Democrats had relentlessly caricatured him as a doddering idiot actor and thereby set the bar so low, he greatly exceeded expectations.

    I don’t see Trump doing anywhere near as well on (a) and (b) but the expectations bar for him is much lower than it was for Reagan so if he avoids gaffes, stays  affable but can still remain the ever-insouciant Donald Trump, he will likely get an enormous boost from debates.

    Trump has to know that any single remark (even way out of context) that can be spun into service of the MSM narrative will become the sole issue in post-debate coverage.

    Lester Holt (moderator for first debate) works for the most leftist of the 3 networks and will presumably rely on NBC staff.   There is no way to inject any balance into that environment.  I really doubt that the final product will be anything other than a straight copy of Hillary’s briefing pages so Trump will need to be able to knock Hillary off-message often while not creating Dem/MSM soundbite ammo.  Tough mission.

    • #7
  8. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I suspect we won’t have debates.  Clinton has nothing to gain from them.

    • #8
  9. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    So, again, even though this post is generally positive about Trump, the author somehow feels honor-bound to point out that it is surely common wisdom that he is a buffoonish-jock who bilks media coverage.  The post is interesting and summarizes his strengths in the upcoming goat rodeo, in spite of this.

    There happens to quite a significant contingent of our voters who disagree vehemently with your characterization of him.  But, I guess since you’re writing on Ricochet, NR-lite, his positives must be tempered a bit.  Get ready for the coming landslide.  The aforementioned contingent is growing, and now includes Mark Levin, who doesn’t worship Trump but realizes the stark and deadly alternative.

    • #9
  10. Israel P. Inactive
    Israel P.
    @IsraelP

    Skyler:

    I suspect we won’t have debates. Clinton has nothing to gain from them.

    Calls in sick. gets sympathy. Some of our people speculate. Gets more sympathy.

    That’s a plan.

    • #10
  11. Craig Inactive
    Craig
    @Craig

    Trinity Waters: “So, again, even though this post is generally positive about Trump, the author somehow feels honor-bound to point out that it is surely common wisdom that he is a buffoonish-jock who bilks media coverage.”

    Hello Trinity,

    I hardly think I was ‘honor-bound’ to use those terms, for want of a better term was more the perception level Trump currently has among the population (including some here at Ricochet).  

    If you’re already determined that Trump is a buffoonish-jock, doesn’t act that way during the debate, that perception now becomes unrealistic.  That conventional sentiment is smashed and as indicated in the article, plays enormously towards swinging the perception of Trump exceeding expectations.   

    EDIT:  As for the free media remark, I couldn’t find a definition that incorporated gleaned & bilked, so settled on bilked. So in reconsidering, I’m prepared to admit there may have been some lazy ‘honor-boundish’ in there.   

    • #11
  12. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    One wonders how how “this incompetent buffoon” managed to build any of these buildings in some of the hardest locations to construct a building in the world.  How did he manage to obtain financing, develop the site, plus deal with architects, world class contractors, unions, and city bureaucracies? How did he convince tenants to part with their money for fill the buildings. After all he can’t put an English sentence together.

    A tall silver skyscraper sits at a jog in the river beyond a bridge. The river and other along its banks buildings are in the foreground.

    Trump Tower Vancouver, August 2016.jpg

    • #12
  13. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Trinity Waters:So, again, even though this post is generally positive about Trump, the author somehow feels honor-bound to point out that it is surely common wisdom that he is a buffoonish-jock who bilks media coverage.

    No, the poster wrote that is how Trump is perceived, and it is. He could have said that Trump is perceived as a racist, misogynistic con man with a massive ego, and that would be true too. Be glad he went with the latter former (sorry – brain fart). The negative perception of Trump by a clear majority of the electorate (including many of the ReluctantTrumpers) is absolutely his greatest weakness, and it will be almost impossible to win without changing that.

    • #13
  14. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    You can be a successful real estate developer and a buffoon in politics. No inconsistency there.

    • #14
  15. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Marion Evans: You can be a successful real estate developer and a buffoon in politics. No inconsistency there.

    You can also be a buffoon in real estate, inherit loads of money, and hire lots of non-buffoons to make you more money.

    And if somebody leaves me a fortune I’ll prove it!

    • #15
  16. She Member
    She
    @She

    I think whichever one of them speaks the least in these debates (if they occur) will be the winner.

    Trump should stick to the script, keep his answers brief, make sure that each answer contains some sort of jibe about Hillary’s record, or “why don’t you ask her about her record,” and not extemporize, vamp, or get into territory where he may say something ill-judged, stupid, or toxic.

    He should cede the majority of the time to Hillary and just let her talk.

    Because the more people see of her, and hear her, the less they like her.

    Conversely, if she manages to one-up him on the insults and jibes, gets under his skin, and gets him into “I’m going to double down and hit you back harder” territory, in which he forgets the script, and starts to free-associate and ramble, he will lose.

    • #16
  17. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Debates are meaningless theater. Only fans of the candidates watch. They cheer and boo according to the person speaking without any thought. They are no longer a tool that thinking people use to learn about candidates policy objectives and poise under pressure. The events themselves are usually moderated by glorified circus barkers.

    • #17
  18. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    So obviously I’m not for Trump but I still think he’ll win and it will be the debates that does it.

    But I don’t think it will be for the reasons above.

    Look at Trump in photos.  Look at photos from the Republican debates.  He always looks like the boss.  He has that presence.  The Republican field looked like the people who worked for him.  He’s big.  He takes up space.  He catches your eye.  Hillary has no presence at all.

    The second reason is that he is unpredictable.  You don’t know what he’s going to say.  You don’t know how is going to react.  You don’t even know what position he’ll take.  And it changes question to question.  Moment to moment.  That’s really impossible to debate.

    On the other hand, Hillary is a robot.  She’ll be hyper-prepared and her answers will be tightly calculated.  But she’ll need to be quick on her feet and she isn’t.

    Her best bet is to try to be invisible.

    • #18
  19. Tony Sells Inactive
    Tony Sells
    @TonySells

    Trinity Waters:So, again, even though this post is generally positive about Trump, the author somehow feels honor-bound to point out that it is surely common wisdom that he is a buffoonish-jock who bilks media coverage. The post is interesting and summarizes his strengths in the upcoming goat rodeo, in spite of this.

    There happens to quite a significant contingent of our voters who disagree vehemently with your characterization of him. But, I guess since you’re writing on Ricochet, NR-lite, his positives must be tempered a bit. Get ready for the coming landslide. The aforementioned contingent is growing, and now includes Mark Levin, who doesn’t worship Trump but realizes the stark and deadly alternative.

    I would not call Trump a buffoonish-jock.  He doesn’t seem to have ever been very athletic.  I would simply just call him a buffoon.

    Vote for him “because Hillary”, but make no mistake about it, he’s terrible.

    • #19
  20. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Tony Sells:I would not call Trump a buffoonish-jock. He doesn’t seem to have ever been very athletic. I would simply just call him a buffoon.

    Vote for him “because Hillary”, but make no mistake about it, he’s terrible.

    I wanted so much to say that too.

    • #20
  21. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    In the fine novel We Are Not Ourselves Big Mike Tumulty wins a footrace against a faster opponent by crushing him against the doorframe on the way out of the bar.

    Trump should adopt this tactic on every question.

    • #21
  22. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Annefy:Great post.

    Have the debates been scheduled yet? Seems Hillary can’t say more than a few words these days without coughing up a lung – if there was a debate this weekend I think Trump would win in a walk.

    Yes, here is the schedule:

    First presidential debate (Mon, Sept. 26)
    Vice presidential debate (Tues, Oct. 4)
    Second presidential debate (Sun, Oct. 9)
    Third presidential debate (Wed, Oct. 19)

    • #22
  23. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS
    @user_54742

    I am posting here because Andrew Klavan’s opening monologue is about the Presidential debates.

    If you don’t listen to The Andrew Klavan Show, do so, it’s entertaining, interesting, and funny particularly his opening monologue.

    • #23
  24. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Marion Evans:You can be a successful real estate developer and a buffoon in politics. No inconsistency there.

    Yes.  I think Ted Cruz, for example, is a brilliant man, but he’s not qualified to teach college biology and I am.  At the same time, I’m not at all qualified to be President.

    • #24
  25. Paul Dougherty Member
    Paul Dougherty
    @PaulDougherty

    IMG_5236

    ’62 – Varsity Football

    ’63- Varsity Soccer

    Making America great again… indeed.

    In the summer of ’63 he abandoned his country. There is probably a visit to Moscow in there somewhere.

    • #25
  26. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    I’m really curious to see how the debates go.  Observing Trump in the GOP debates greatly lowered my opinion of him.  I went from ReluctantlyTrump to NotTrump.  Clearly other people had a different reaction.  He’s been much better lately, so now I’m back to MaybeTrump.  When I heard about Trump being up in the CNN poll, I felt good about it, so at least emotionally I’m rooting for Trump.  If Trump does good things, and his polls go up in response, that’s good.

    I still think Trump  would (will?) be a bad president, and I’ll be fighting hard to get somebody better next time.  If wins, but does a bad job, I’ll support a more conservative candidate challenging him in 2020.  But for now, he is the nominee.

    • #26
  27. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Viator:One wonders how how “this incompetent buffoon” managed to build any of these buildings in some of the hardest locations to construct a building in the world. How did he manage to obtain financing, develop the site, plus deal with architects, world class contractors, unions, and city bureaucracies? How did he convince tenants to part with their money for fill the buildings. After all he can’t put an English sentence together.

    A tall silver skyscraper sits at a jog in the river beyond a bridge. The river and other along its banks buildings are in the foreground.

    Trump Tower Vancouver, August 2016.jpg

    Trump is no architect. He didn’t design the buildings. At best, he acted as a accumulator of funds, and, probably, someone who dealt with the unions and the city involved. Showing a magnificent building as an example of Trump’s accomplishments is like crediting the guys who got the money together for an Oscar winning movie with the actual person who produced and directed it.

    • #27
  28. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    Eugene Kriegsmann: Trump is no architect. He didn’t design the buildings.

    No one said he did.

    Eugene Kriegsmann: At best, he acted as a accumulator of funds, and, probably, someone who dealt with the unions and the city involved. Showing a magnificent building as an example of Trump’s accomplishments is like crediting the guys who got the money together for an Oscar winning movie with the actual person who produced and directed it.

    You must be kidding, right? Do you have the least notion on how hard it is to build a project like this? Do you know how many pitfalls lie in wait? Do you know how easy it is to go over budget, or way, way over budget? Do you know how easy it is to lose control of a project of this magnitude, to demolish your schedule? Do you have any idea how many people lie in wait for you to demonstrate weakness or failure? When you observe Trump you can see he is a hands on expert at very large scale urban construction. He loves to show off his projects and exhibits intimate knowledge and pride of what is going on. Say what you want about Trump, you can’t say his many buildings worldwide aren’t Trumpian.

    • #28
  29. Craig Inactive
    Craig
    @Craig

    Eugene Kriegsmann: Trump is no architect. He didn’t design the buildings.

    He didn’t build that, someone else did. . .  Where have I heard that before

    • #29
  30. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS
    @user_54742

    Eugene Kriegsmann:

    Viator:One wonders how how “this incompetent buffoon” managed to build any of these buildings in some of the hardest locations to construct a building in the world. How did he manage to obtain financing, develop the site, plus deal with architects, world class contractors, unions, and city bureaucracies? How did he convince tenants to part with their money for fill the buildings. After all he can’t put an English sentence together.

    A tall silver skyscraper sits at a jog in the river beyond a bridge. The river and other along its banks buildings are in the foreground.

    Trump Tower Vancouver, August 2016.jpg

    Trump is no architect. He didn’t design the buildings. At best, he acted as a accumulator of funds, and, probably, someone who dealt with the unions and the city involved. Showing a magnificent building as an example of Trump’s accomplishments is like crediting the guys who got the money together for an Oscar winning movie with the actual person who produced and directed it.

    I am voting for Trump.

    However, it is unsettling how Trump, who by all objective measure(Billionaire real estate tycoon, Wharton School,etc.) should be able to present himself as a reasonably bright person, will come off as if he’s winging it(badly at times) on topics which he should have formulated some ideas/talking points/”things to say” so he would avoid making himself appear as if doesn’t know what he’s talking about.   It does not bode well that Trump, who must have started thinking about running for President more than two years ago, still doesn’t appear to have the ability to intelligently articulate himself (or at least fake it reasonably well) on issues a Presidents will be expected to know.

    • #30
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