The presidential debates between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are what we’ve long waited for. The sniping from rally podiums and through reporters is taking a backseat to the candidates coming together on stage. How will it turn out?
Many assume that the debate stage is Hillary Clinton’s moment to shine. To a degree, there is logic to this assumption. She has a long career in politics and thus has had more time to live the game. She understands what is acceptable and what isn’t, has become better refined, and ultimately is tempered.
Her opponent, on the other hand, has established himself as an unregulated speaker and a loose cannon. The presidential race, dating back to the early days of the primary, is full of questionable comments and harsh words. The man who has created hurtful nicknames for all of his enemies doesn’t pull any punches.
But this is why Donald Trump could ultimately win the debates. All of them.
Recent presidential polls show Trump gaining ground nationally and in various battleground states. Whereas the mainstream media was calling the race all but over a month ago, it now appears competitive. This is significant because Trump hasn’t stopped being Trump. Everyone knows how he speaks, how he thinks, and what he means. His questionable points and arguably offensive tone are no secret. But people still are swinging in his direction.
This gives Trump strength. There isn’t much he could say at the presidential debate on national television that would surprise anyone. Could he say things that would be ammunition for the Democratic Party? Absolutely, but it’s just that. Most Americans already know Trump and have formed an opinion.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is backed into a corner. She’s losing ground when things once looked strong. Her opponent’s tone and aggression, which long seemed like a liability, is no longer hurting him. Either people like Trump’s attitude or are indifferent to it.
Should Clinton embrace this approach and burn down the stage to take down her Republican opponent? She can’t, because nobody expects it out of her.
Trump can insult disabled individuals, mock reporters, endorse forcing another country to pay for our wall, talk about punching others, and otherwise advance damaging policy points. They don’t hurt him, though. It’s who he is and people expect it. Nobody expects it out of Clinton. Given that Clinton’s entire appeal is that she’s not Trump, if she starts going Trump on Trump, she’s going to lose that appeal.
This election cycle is looking more in Donald Trump’s favor each and every day. The first debate showed that he has more passion and fire, regardless of whether he is right or wrong. Clinton is more like an over-rehearsed robot who was programmed prior to the debate. Americans clearly have reached a point where they’re less concerned with the issues and empty rhetoric, and more concerned with someone who appears genuine at heart.
For this reason, Trump is going to continue performing well on the debate stage while Clinton looks awkward.