Don’t miss tonight’s first presidential debate, starting at 9 pm EST. Two will enter, one will emerge victorious. Who will it be?
For Hillary to win, she has to:
— More than anything, convince people she is not a liar. This is her last chance to clear the air, even a little, over the deadly, lingering doubts about her email, the Clinton Foundation, her speeches, all of it. If Hillary dismisses this pile of stuff, or otherwise panhandles her usual non-answers, she may lose. If Trump comes armed with specifics, dates, and facts, Hillary has to deal with them with specifics, dates, and facts.
— Not collapse on stage and not appear severely medicated. If she can say something convincing about her health, she can win. If the warfarin blood thinners hit her too hard tonight as they did at the 9/11 memorial, the election is over.
— Not stumble into Trump. If Hillary keeps to the high road, maybe limit herself to one burst of faux righteous anger as she did in the Benghazi hearings (“What does it even matter anymore!”) she wins. If she gets into name-calling with Trump, she loses. She cannot out-Trump Trump and should not try.
Of all of everything, it is the first item above that will sink or allow Hillary to swim on.
For Trump to win, he has to:
— Rattle Hillary. Needle her. Get her to act “unpresidential,” i.e., more like him. Her criticisms of him evaporate if she breaks character.
— Stay on the offensive. Ask her hard and if possible, fact-based questions about her email, the Clinton Foundation, her speeches, all of it. Don’t let her sidetrack this with calls for his tax returns. Take the hit on that and keep punching. She has more to hide than his tax returns.
— Not get dragged into some policy wonk discussion. That’s Clinton’s home turf.
— Be Trump, but maybe just a little less Trump. Don’t abandon what has worked and brought him to this stage, but give enough room for some undecided voters to think “Well, I’ve heard a lot of crap about this guy, but he doesn’t seem as bad as people have said.” Don’t let it look to moderates like Hillary is debating an a*shole. Use the fact that expectations are low to his advantage.
— If at all possible, a big if, show a flash or two of humor. Turn any Hillary accusation back. Let her try some sophomoric crap like calling him “Donald” and make her seem silly and childish.
— Stay away from Bill’s sexescapdes. The base knows all about them, and the undecideds don’t want to hear about it.
— Have a really good answer when Hillary attacks him on being Putin’s man. Maybe throw her love affairs with the Saudis at her.
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