Hillary Clinton's debate preparation is well underway, as she gears up to face Donald Trump on stage for the first time on Sept. 26. You might be wondering how in the heck a person could prepare for a debate against such an unpredictable character. For Clinton, according to CNN, it involves studying Trump's performances in the Republican primary debates and working with an interesting ally who's had a peek behind the Trump curtain: Tony Schwartz. Clinton will be helped by Schwartz, who co-wrote The Art of the Deal with the Republican presidential nominee, and who has been an outspoken critic of the Republican nominee since the summer.
According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter last month, Schwartz declined to comment on his involvement in Clinton's debate prep, but he had some choice words about Trump: "Trump has severe attention problems and simply cannot take in complex information — he will be unable to practice for these debates." He told the publication, “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.”
In his first public interview about Trump with The New Yorker in June, Schwartz, who was a journalist around the time of writing the book, conveyed a sense of responsibility for Trump's popularity, which eventually led him to the Republican nomination. In The Art of the Deal, Schwartz portrayed Trump as the tough-guy mega-successful businessman character that we're all now familiar with, and some are enamored of. "I put lipstick on a pig,” Schwartz said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is."
Perhaps working with Clinton would be Schwartz's attempt at redemption for what he perceives as his role in molding the Trump brand. Maybe he — or the Clinton campaign — believes his 18 months of being up close and personal with Trump, though they occurred over 20 years ago, offer him unique insight into the candidate's personality that can now serve as useful tools against him.
In his New Yorker interview, Schwartz offered several different assessments of Trump's personality, describing him as "impulsive," having "no attention span," "self-centered," "obsessed with publicity," and having "the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true." According to CNN, Clinton has been focusing on what frazzled Trump during the Republican primary debates; Schwartz's analysis could certainly assist her if she's angling to push Trump's buttons and expose his weaknesses personality-wise on the debate stage.
I believe we can certainly expect Clinton to drive home what Trump's critics describe as the superficiality of his political knowledge and policy ideas. And if she does indeed have Schwartz's input, she might be better equipped to elicit the type of behavior from Trump on the national stage that attests to her statements that he lacks the temperament for the role of POTUS.