What is Donald Trump's Debate Strategy? The Candidate's Risky Approach Might Not Be The Way To Go
One of the two main presidential candidates is already hard at work preparing for the general election debates that kick off on Sept. 26. She's studying her opponent's insecurities and working with advisers to narrow down just what topics will get under his skin. Not her normal talking points, though. Policy is not the way to beat him, rather she has to get him to explode in a way less than becoming to a presidential candidate. Who are we talking about here? Clearly Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump. So what's Trump's debate strategy? You'll never believe it, and it's probably not the best advice for his candidacy.
The New York Times reported on the difference in strategy between Trump and Clinton, which is more or less what you read above. The Times pointed to Trump's comments in an interview:
I believe you can prep too much for those things. It can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony — like you're trying to be someone you're not.
So he will not be attending practice debates or using advisers as Clinton. The Times reported that at Trump's first prep session, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham even offered to play his Democratic opponent. Trump said no. There was really no practice, according to the anonymous sources: not much prep had been accomplished.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump's new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tried to paint his lack of preparation as a good thing. "Donald Trump is the unpredictable X-factor and Hillary Clinton is the scripted statist," she told the Post. "I fully understand why Team Clinton feels the need to drown her in briefing books and Hollywood consulting."
But Trump's refusal to practice must worry his team. Of course, that could change as the debates grow closer, but for now it sounds like a ridiculous plan. Clinton is a seasoned debater. Her debates with Pres. Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders this election cycle were not easy wins, and she performed well. Trump thinks he can be bold and genuine, and believes that will be enough. And as for the comment "you can prep too much," that very well may be true, but that doesn't mean not practicing at all.
The Internet is full of sports aficionados and music teachers who warn against psyching yourself out or growing sick of the sport or instrument. But there remains a basic level of knowledge one needs to debate successfully. Plus the saying is that "practicing too much is just as bad as practicing too little." Trump is just falling on the other end of that extreme.
Of course, his ultimate backup might be to refuse to go to the debate. He already skipped a Fox News debate during primary season, and then went ahead to blame his Iowa loss on his no-show. Perhaps that's his plan for the general election, skip the debates and then blame his loss to Clinton on that. That would be a betrayal of years of debate precedent, but it would also keep him out of the White House. So maybe it wouldn't be so bad.