Will Clinton Meet Expectations In The First Debate?

Election Day is now less than fifty days away, and with national polling reflecting a surge of momentum for Donald Trump, the pressure is squarely on Hillary Clinton to live up to her reputation as a talented debater at a time when millions of undecided voters will be glued to their screens.For Clinton, high expectations stem from ample experience. Clinton is a career politician who has spent years sharpening her debate reflexes and beefing up on public policy. Donald Trump is new to the format. Aside from the primary debates (which have lower levels of attention focused on them and many more participants), Trump’s lack of formal, political, one-on-one debate experience gives Clinton a significant advantage.

This view is informed in large part due to Clinton’s adroit performances in past debates. Clinton’s been at it since she’s been on the debate team in high school, and she has shined on some of the biggest stages before. In 2008, in the thick of the Democrat primary, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod admitted Clinton had “a very strong debate performance” against then-Senator Obama. In 2016, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was frustrated by the fact Clinton did not make a single “significant mistake” during the five times they were on stage together. She knows how to debate, and by all accounts, she is a methodical and intense consumer of information in her preparations beforehand.

Just ask her campaign. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon described Clinton’s approach in seeing the debate stage as a “proving ground.” Chief Strategist Joel Benenson echoed Fallon by declaring of Trump, “I don’t think he can go toe to toe with her,” and speculated Clinton “will come out on top.” Not to be outdone, Clinton surrogate Ed Rendell said she held her own on many occasions in 2008 against Obama, who he called “probably the greatest debater in public speaking, in politics, in our lifetime.”

The optimism in the Clinton camp is shared in the media as well, where there is almost unanimous agreement Clinton is an adept debater. Dana BashChris Matthews, and Chris Hayes note how “seasoned”  she is, and more pundits than we can count (including John HeilemannWolf Blitzer, and Mark Shields) laud her talent, experience and debate skills.

Trump hasn’t been running for president for 24 years, he’s spent his career as a successful businessman. Few are expecting the same level of polish from a verbal gunslinger whose rhetorical strength is speaking to the heart – and the gut – of the American people.

Aside from the Super Bowl, the first debate has very high potential to be the most watched television event of the year. With so much riding on this moment and a wealth of experience working in her favor, Hillary Clinton has no excuse not to turn in a near-flawless performance.

Hillary Clinton Has Much To Explain At Second Democrat Debate. Unfortunately, Few Will Hear It

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody hears it, did it really fall? That question lingers over tomorrow night’s Democrat debate in Des Moines, which was purposely scheduled by the DNC to ensure low viewership to protect Hillary Clinton.

It’s clear she needs protecting. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are ready to take the gloves off and Hillary Clinton is reeling from new and damaging developments in her growing email scandal. Not only is the FBI expanding its investigation on several fronts, but Clinton still has not had to answer for two newly unearthed non-disclosure agreements that she appears to have violated. New polls show Clinton facing general election headwinds in deep blue Minnesota and Michigan, and a new McClatchy/Marist survey released yesterday found that more than 2-in-3 Americans think her secret email server was either unethical or illegal.

But hosting a debate in Iowa on a Saturday night where the 5th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes football team will continue its march toward a national championship will ensure this debate has little impact on the state of play in the Democrat primary. Even Democrat strategists in Iowa are admitting they’ll be watching the game instead of the debate. Adding to Clinton’s fortunes are her weak sparring partners, who have so far failed to land any meaningful blows.

Democrats who wanted a real contest and exchange of ideas are being shortchanged. This has become a primary in name only, rigged to benefit Hillary Clinton. But the lack of a serious race will only hurt Clinton in the long run. Clinton won’t be tested, and she won’t be forced to defend some of her biggest weaknesses: her untrustworthiness, likeability, and the perception she’s not honest.

At the heart of Clinton’s untrustworthy numbers is her propensity to flip-flop and change positions based on the political winds.  In 2008 it was to run to the right of Obama, in 2015 it’s to run to the left of the self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders.  Hillary Clinton has no core principles or beliefs and it’s a key factor in why she’s not trusted by a majority of the American people.

The RNC will use this debate to target Clinton’s flip-flops to drive home that she’s a dishonest politician who can’t be trusted.   Clinton has switched positions on nearly every key issue there is – she claims she’s evolved but in reality she’s jolted violently to the left.  We’re going to call her out.

The DNC knows all this and wants to shield their frontrunner from scrutiny on national TV.

So while Hillary Clinton coasts towards her coronation, our slate of highly accomplished and qualified candidates will continue to debate the issues in the open – and one of them will emerge battle tested and ready to take on and beat Hillary Clinton.

Dem Debate: On The Ropes, Clinton Has No Choice But To Deliver A Strong Performance

Heading into the first Democrat debate, Hillary Clinton is on the ropes. Down double digits to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire and hanging on by a thread in Iowa, Clinton needs to turn in a strong performance to calm Democrat jitters and send a message to Vice President Biden, who looks increasingly likely to jump into the race. Tonight, anything shy of a homerun performance is unacceptable.

Clinton and her campaign know the stakes. In methodical fashion, she has taken a sharp leftward turn on a slew of issues – from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to Keystone to Wall Street to immigration – bringing her rhetoric and proposals more in line with far-left Democrat primary voters.

In addition to the level of shamelessness only she can bring, Hillary Clinton is an experienced debater who is at her best when her back is against the wall. Bloomberg’s John Heileman, then writing for New York Magazine, noted in 2012 that during the 2008 Democrat primary Barack Obama “lost almost every debate that he debated with Hillary Clinton.”For all of these reasons, signs point to someone who should be the hands down winner. Then again, there is her untested competition to consider, none of whom has ever stood in the spotlight of a presidential debate stage. In contrast, Hillary Clinton debated 26 times during the 2008 nominating contest and clamored for even more.

The Democrats joining Clinton on the debate stage will reinforce why their party hasn’t already deserted her over her seeming lack of conviction and long history of scandal. Tonight she will face off against:

  • Bernie Sanders, a 73-year old socialist from Vermont who is surging in the polls (need we say more?).
  • Martin O’Malley, the failed former governor of Maryland whose signature accomplishment was taxing rain and couldn’t get noticed in an empty room.
  • Lincoln Chafee, a failed former governor of Rhode Island whose signature issue is converting America to the metric system.
  • Jim Webb, a one-term Senator from Virginia who is rumored to still be running for president.
Hillary Clinton should run laps around this field – not just because she can, but because she has to. With her email scandal growing worse by the day she has zero margin for error. If Clinton falters, Democrats will predictably descend into a state of panic. If she emerges relatively unscathed, it will because she abandoned the center. Either way, Hillary Clinton is entering her first debate with some of the worst poll numbers in her more than two-decades in the national political spotlight. And that’s a problem that doesn’t go away in a single night, no matter how good the performance.

How We Improved the GOP Debates

Wall Street Journal
July 26, 2015

As the start of the Republican presidential-primary debates approaches next month, there has been a great deal of discussion about the formats. In the weeks since Fox News and CNN released the criteria for the first debates airing on their networks, the debates themselves have become a source of debate.

But let’s step back for a moment and add some context to the discussion. In 2008 there were 23 GOP debates; in 2012 there were 20, and the first debate of that cycle occurred in May 2011. Most observers concluded after the 2012 election that the packed debate schedule was a disservice to the candidates—and, more important, to the voters. The schedule kept candidates off the campaign trail, robbing them of time that otherwise could have been spent meeting with voters, listening to their concerns and trying to earn their support.

There was also frustration about debate hosts and moderators, some of whom had concocted bizarre and irrelevant questions.

So the Republican National Committee, where I work, decided to take action—to do what it could within the law to achieve three goals.

First, we sought to give the process predictability so that candidates would know the schedule in advance and could spend more time meeting with voters and taking part in other forums where they could engage in longer, more in-depth discussions. We succeeded in doing that with a schedule that includes one debate a month starting in August and then two a month beginning in 2016, for a total of nine televised debates.

Second, we wanted to add an element of conservative media to the debates. We have succeeded in that as well. NBC is partnering with National Review, CNN is partnering with Salem Radio, and ABC is partnering with the Independent Journal Review. This ensures that the concerns of grass-roots Republicans will be more likely to be addressed.

Third, we wanted to spread the debates into more states so that they were not concentrated in only a handful. We have done so. The nine scheduled debates will take place in nine different states, and that will bring more people into the process.

But now some observers, in and out of the campaigns, have expressed concern about the criteria used to determine who will appear onstage for the first two debates.

It is important to acknowledge that the networks and the networks alone are responsible for determining such criteria. Federal election law states that only two types of entities may host a debate: a 501(c)(3) organization or a media outlet. The Republican National Committee is neither. It is therefore up to the staging organization to set the criteria and the format. Those who call on the RNC to change the criteria misunderstand the law.

Such criteria must be clear, transparent, objective and neutral. No special exemptions can be made; special treatment cannot be given to certain candidates. Fox News and CNN have met these standards.

Right now the Republican Party suffers from an abundance of riches when it comes to the historic quantity of quality candidates: They can’t fit on one stage. The maximum of 10 candidates appearing on a debate stage for 2016 matches the highest for debates in either party. Fox News and CNN have taken it upon themselves to guarantee second debates for the declared Republican candidates not in the top 10. So to everyone who says “let them debate,” the top 16 candidates will debate. Is the arrangement perfect? No. It is, however, the most inclusive setup in history.

Continue reading: http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-we-improved-the-gop-debates-1437949856