Whether the third debate matters is open to….debate.
Is this election so out of hand now that Donald Trump could do donuts around Hillary and it wouldn’t be enough or are the polls so off, either due to the media cooking the numbers or so many Americans so afraid of admitting they are for the billionaire that they lied to the survey takers?
That the media has been unprecedentedly biased and overtly advocating or covering for the Democratic nominee is beyond question, even without the smoking gun emails that have been revealed but understandably not broadcast by the very folks indicted by them.
The true value in a debate for Trump, or for that matter any Republican, is that in theory he will have about 40 minutes worth of open mic to directly speak to the American people. He’ll be interrupted but he won’t be censored or edited out.
The good news is that Trump’s performance greatly improved in the second debate, coming off mentally prepared and rhetorically sharp.
Trump is going to have to figure out a way to get his talking points through without coming off overbearing while Hillary is going to keep the ball on the ground and maximize the victim card, perhaps to great theatrical effect.
Expounding on his ObamaCare repeal and replace beyond making it portable, which is an improvement but not a cure all, would help convince voters that he would be capable of fixing one of the more immediate domestic issues waiting on the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next president.
Immigration should play to Trump’s strength assuming he doesn’t become a SNL caricature of himself by droning on about the big beautiful wall he is going to construct. Trump should hammer Clinton on Syrian refugees and hit on the number of Americans who have fallen victim to serious crimes committed by illegal immigrants (having loved ones in the audience would help- as he has hosted them at rallies). This is not an opportunity to brag about the endorsement of the border patrol personnel.
On the economy Trump will have his best shot at being presidential. Managing a payroll and being an actual job creator in the private sector, the real estate developer can draw a sharp contrast. Most of the general public believes Trump understands the economy better than Clinton but he can’t get drawn into arguments about his taxes or particular business shortcomings and failures that Hillary will needle him over. Instead of chasing that down the rabbit hole, Trump should dismissively contrast his life experience with Hillary’s and let the public do the math.
Discussing the US Supreme Court could be Trump’s last chance to bring in recalcitrant conservatives.
Trump should not run away from the issue of life but embrace his new found anti-abortion stance with the same statement he used in the primaries about how watching his friend’s wife ultrasound changed his mind. Trump should say he is pro science and thus pro life, and drop the mic. As millennials are a pro life generation, this could help on that front.
Trump could also divert a bit off topic to say that a Trump Administration will not be taking the Little Sisters of the Poor to the courtroom nor will he be infiltrating political hacks into any churches. The courts could also be an opportunity for Trump to hit on the Second Amendment, by arguing that the leftists on the court are planning to “reinterpret” that part of the Bill of Rights as having to do with state militias and not individual ownership. Once again, this is not a time to brag on having the endorsement of the NRA.
Regarding foreign policy, Trump can put Hillary Clinton’s record in government on its head, because it exposes the myth that she’s a brilliant, accomplished civil servant.
By any reasonable assessment Hillary Clinton is the worst Secretary of State in the nation’s history.
There are accountants with a million frequent flyer miles on Delta, that and a book full of passport stamps doesn’t make one a success in handling foreign policy.
One of Hillary Clinton’s initial meetings as Secretary of State was with the Russian foreign minister. In a juvenile slap at the previous administration’s chilly relations with Moscow, Clinton presented the Russian diplomat with a gag button with the word “reset” on it in English.
On the other side was the word Peregruzka, not in Cyrillic (the alphabet Russians use that is not that hard to decipher with a basic understanding- it resembles classical Greek letters) but in English. Adding humiliation to embarrassment it turns out that it wasn’t even a correct translation of “reset” as they put the Russian word for “overload”.
While Google translate might not have been that advanced back in 2009, you’d have thought that the delegation would have had a fluent Russian speaker handle that part.
The Obama Administration’s dealings with Russia have gone from laughable to dangerous and Trump should emphasize that if the voters want a war with Russia then they should by all means vote for the war candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Then there was Libya, which became a catastrophe on many levels after the removal and murder of the dictator (things can always get worse in the Middle East) that kept the place stable.
Finally there is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the bitter harvest of a shortsighted political decision to withdraw the US military from the region.
Trump needs to avoid getting baited into a debate about his position on the war in Iraq, stating that unlike her, he did not have a vote on that decision. He also needs to play down his primary rhetoric, particularly on the “take the oil” stuff. This is a great opportunity to say that the Christians and peace loving Muslims in that region will know they have a friend in the Trump Administration and that he will ensure that the next skulls that will hit the ground in January 2017 will be wrapped in black ISIS headwraps.
When Clinton tries to take credit for taking out Bin Laden, Trump should retort that he watched Zero Dark Thirty and didn’t recall seeing her running around the Pakistani compound with a rifle. He can be snarky on this one as it exposes the absurdity of any claim to taking the al Qaeda leader down.
The trillion dollar question will be on fitness for office. Here is where Trump can sink the three pointer in making his case for the White House or toss the ball over the backboard.
This is also where Trump can lay down his indictment of Clinton.
Trump should clarify his previous comment about sending the former first lady to jail, explaining that he meant that had a Justice Department that did not play political favorites were in Washington, then Clinton would have gone to jail like dozens of other people who did the exact same thing as her, but on a smaller scale. Feel free to name names and give examples of the less famous who were convicted and sentenced.
Second, the American people would not have to worry about his spouse playing a bag man for money from foreign governments as her husband did when she was secretary of state, a basic conflict of interest that the media has amazingly ignored.
Third, Trump should remind people that if they are disgusted with the scandals of the Clintons behavior thus far, including the monetizing of the nation’s foreign policy, just wait until the FBI and the rest of the federal government will be answering directly to her.
As for himself, Trump needs to issue a blanket mea culpa along these lines:
“I am the most famous real estate developer in the world not just for the high quality buildings I’ve constructed but also being a media personality. The latter involves talking a lot to the press. And there’s no shortage of things I regret saying, though that comes with the territory. I never lived my life thinking I would ever seek the presidency. While the Clintons have made millions being in politics, this race has cost me over one hundred million dollars of my own money. If my father Fred were alive he’d be stunned about the money I’ve spent but I also think he’d understand because he loved this country as much as I do. Trust me, one thing I have learned from this experience is why so many smart people don’t run for office. It’s been like watching your life story flash before your eyes in high definition, both the facts and the fiction.
“But I’m here, I am ready to serve and I want to help my countrymen: to create jobs and avoid a war that would be far worse than anything we experienced in Iraq. We have a choice not just in visions and ideas but more importantly in accountability- ask yourself this question- which one of the people on this stage do you believe could be held accountable for doing something illegal or harmful to our country: me or Secretary Clinton.
“I can assure you that if I so much jaywalk in my own inaugural parade they’ll have impeachment articles drafted the next day. With Speaker Ryan as a co-sponsor! The office of the presidency is the most powerful in the world. The people of this great country need to be able to have confidence that the person occupying it is someone who will respect our constitution, respect the laws of the land, and can be held accountable if he or she does not.”
If Donald Trump shows intelligence, humility, self-discipline, and charm in the debate, he will have reframed his image and potentially reset the election.
People do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s up to Trump to demonstrate that they don’t need to.