Is this Fox News story just trash talk, or does it really reveal something about the Trump team's debate plans?
Trump’s debate strategy: Let Clinton talk
... Fox News has learned that the view inside Trump Tower is that the real estate mogul stands to gain by standing back and letting Hillary Clinton talk. And talk.
... the GOP nominee is being advised to let Clinton speak as much as possible on the debate stage, with the thinking being that she could lose viewers the more she does.
“I think both candidates face huge challenges. Both of them are not well liked by the American people. She's an accomplished debater. But she has a style that is oftentimes grating on people,” said Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush.
Rove is quoted on this subject, but no Trump insider is, so I don't know how much to believe this. It might just be an effort on the part of the Trump team (or just Fox) to get out one more story saying Hillary Clinton is an annoying nag.
Or maybe the Trump people really believe this could work. If so, this might be a solution to a problem from Trump that's been pointed out by James Fallows, among others:
In a head-to-head debate, participants know they will get enough airtime. The question becomes how they use it. Example of the difference: In several of the GOP debates, Trump went into a kind of hibernation when the talk became too specific or policy-bound, letting John Kasich or Marco Rubio have the microphone. It didn’t matter, because he’d have a chance to come back with a one-liner -- “We’re gonna win so much.” In debates like the ones this fall, it will be harder to answer some questions and ignore others.
Trump could just disappear from sight for long stretches in the primary debates because there were many debaters -- and you can't blame him, because he knows how to insult people and he knows how to sloganeer, but he doesn't know jack about policy, except maybe when he has access to a Teleprompter. That's not a deficiency he's doing anything to correct, as The New York Times reported this week:
He has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials....
He believes debates are not won or lost on policy minutiae since most viewers will not remember them in an hour. His advisers see it as a waste of time to try to fill his head with facts and figures.
But according to the Times, Clinton is already planning not to talk too much:
Mrs. Clinton grasps that answers need to be trimmed down to two minutes (and rebuttals should be even tighter) and will keep working to tighten her answers in coming days. [She r]esponds well to timers and stopwatches but also has an instinctual sense of time running out.
I hope she sticks to that approach. As I've said before, the two people who've most effectively gotten up Trump's nose -- President Obama with the birth certificate release and jabs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and David Letterman with his sneak attack on Trump as an outsourcer, threw Trump off stride without raising their voices or getting visibly angry. Let Trump be the one who seems to lose patience.
I hope all this means that the Trump people are letting the widespread right-wing contempt for Hillary Clinton influence their debate prep. I'm assuming that the opposite is true for Clinton: She may not like Trump, but I bet she respects his ability to win and hold an audience. I think she knows he has a creepy sort of charisma and an alley fighter's low cunning.
It wouldn't surprise me if Trump and most of his advisers can't even see Clinton's strengths, and can't imagine anyone ever responding well to her. They might be prepping for a debate against someone they assume alienates everyone all the time. In fact, the real Clinton is far more impressive than the press-mediated version of her. I hope the Trumpers aren't ready for that because they have no respect for her. And I hope she's ready to take him down precisely because she has respect for what he's pulled off in the past year.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog