Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are taking vastly different approaches to their upcoming debates, according to The New York Times.
Clinton is leaving no stone unturned, consulting Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter who wrote Trump’s The Art of the Deal as well as psychology experts to ascertain where Trump’s psychological makeup will yield an opportunity to provoke him into a response that could damage him. The team fielded by Clinton is also examining the likely path Trump will take to confronting a woman on stage.
The Times writes, “They are undertaking a forensic-style analysis of Mr. Trump’s performances in the Republican primary debates, cataloging strengths and weaknesses as well as trigger points that caused him to lash out in less-than-presidential ways.”
Meanwhile, in typical Trump fashion, Trump is apparently ignoring any painstaking preparation, preferring to rely on a spontaneous response to Clinton. The Times reports that Trump spent some of the past two Sundays with his debate team, but essentially disdained their advice. He told the Times, “I believe you can prep too much for those things can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony — like you’re trying to be someone you’re not.” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, asserted to The Washington Post, “Donald Trump is the unpredictable X-factor and Hillary Clinton is the scripted statist. I fully understand why Team Clinton feels the need to drown her in briefing books and Hollywood consulting.”
On August 21, at Mr. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J., radio host Laura Ingraham offered to act as a stand-in for Clinton, according to Trump advisers, but Trump wasn’t interested. Trump wanted to know about which topics were likely to be discussed and which moderators might be employed, but sources said bery little of substance was gained.
Trump boasted to the Times, “I know who I am, and it got me here. I don’t want to present a false front. I mean, it’s possible we’ll do a mock debate, but I don’t see a real need … I know how to handle Hillary.”
Trump believes his spontaneity will contrast well with Clinton’s efforts at preparedness, which he thinks will make her look rehearsed.
On Friday, Clinton met longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain, Washington lawyer Karen Dunn and her senior strategist, Joel Benenson, working steadily to assimilate the campaign’s extensive data on Trump and the likely questions and themes arising at the September 26 debate. The consensus among the Clinton team is that Trump is likely to be roiled by questions about his intelligence, his net worth and his image as a successful businessman.
Schwartz said, “Trump has severe attention problems and simply cannot take in complex information — he will be unable to practice for these debates. Trump will bring nothing but his bluster to the debates. He’ll use sixth-grade language, he will repeat himself many times, he won’t complete sentences, and he won’t say anything of substance. Even so, Clinton has to be careful — she could get everything right and still potentially lose the debates if she comes off as too condescending, too much of a know-it-all.”
Unlike Trump’s rejection of using Ingraham as a stand-in, Clinton will face-off against someone prepared to emulate Trump. Clinton is preparing for rump’s assaults on scandals associated with her, including her husband’s sexual history. Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, aiding the Clinton effort, acknowledged, “She knows that it’s coming.” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon told The Washington Post, “She feels like it is a proving ground, that this is a job interview. I think she will approach the debate with a great deal of seriousness and a sense of purpose, and also keenly aware that Donald Trump is capable of anything.”
Paul Begala said that if Trump makes false charges, that might pose a problem for Clinton, asserting, “She is more wonk than pol, so she might be especially frustrated by a steady stream of invective, conspiracy theories and lies.”
Possible names floated to emulate Trump for Clinton include Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, who grew up in Queens, where Trump hails from; James Carville, Bill Clinton’s chief strategist in 1992, and billionaire Mark Cuban.
Trump had a single person he would use to emulate Clinton: his daughter Ivanka, saying, “Wouldn’t she be great at that? Maybe.”