Preparing for the Unexpected |ı| Analyzing Clinton’s and Trump’s Debate Strategies

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 8.22.52 AMPATRICK HEALY



Friday, September 23, 2016



Good Friday morning.
Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are taking vastly different approaches to the presidential debate on Monday, and their divergent strategies reveal how the candidates and their campaigns see the race, their strengths and their opponents’ weaknesses.
Here is a sampling of a scouting report on the two prospects and their training regimens for the debate, according to advisers, allies and friends of both candidates. The full analysis can be found here.
Mrs. Clinton is mentally readying herself for multiple Trumps: the disciplined opponent who sticks to big themes, the no-holds-barred adversary who goes on the offensive, and the snide antagonist who calls her a “loser” to her face. Her advisers are hurling a host of Trumpian assaults and counterattacks at her to test her responses and adjust them as needed.
Yet she is also wary of interrupting Mr. Trump. In practice sessions, she has come across best when she waits to pounce confidently on Mr. Trump for lying or misstating facts, rather than trying to talk over him.
Mr. Trump does not like practicing an answer over and over until it is letter-perfect and appropriately brief. But this weekend will be geared to running through questions while he is on his feet and aware of the countdown timer when he is speaking.
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. Instead, they want him to practice staying focused on big-picture themes rather than picking fights on side issues or taking the bait from Mrs. Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton has been steady and poised in debate preparations and knows it is critical that she appear cool and collected onstage with Mr. Trump.
Advisers want to work on helping Mrs. Clinton get into a groove onstage as quickly as possible. Should Mr. Trump confront her on the private email server she used at the State Department, she should aggressively respond by pointing to his not disclosing his tax returns.
Mr. Trump’s instinct in debates is often to attack and insult opponents, which had an upside during the circuslike primary debates but could be grating during a 90-minute one-on-one debate.
His advisers want him to project optimism about America and his policies while also showing some heat and energy in the right moments to challenge Mrs. Clinton.
His team has been emphasizing the best ways to win: Do not pick stupid fights with her or with the moderator; explain yourself rather than get defensive; deliver the answers you want; and do not worry about answering questions directly.
Donald J. Trump speaking in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Civil rights activists and national security veterans fear Mr. Trump’s plan could have the effect of treating minorities with suspicion and singling them out for scrutiny.

Donald J. Trump spoke at the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

His campaign manager said the nominee was not referring to the unrest in Charlotte, N.C., when he said that drugs were to blame for the violence roiling cities.

Protesters faced off with police officers inside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department office in Uptown Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday night.

Logan R. Cyrus for The New York Times

Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump seized on the shooting and protests in Charlotte, but it was unclear whether they could sway undecided voters.


Perhaps no battleground state is as polarized along demographic lines as this one.

On the Trail

With the debate to prepare for, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton have no public events. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia is the only one who does, attending a rally in Houston.
Donald J. Trump at the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Donald Trump, in Pittsburgh, Pledges to Bolster Both Coal and Gas


But experts said the Republican nominee’s plan won’t work, because natural gas fracking is the surest way to stymie coal production, and vice versa.

Hillary Clinton appearing on “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis.

A Deadpan Hillary Clinton Visits ‘Between Two Ferns’


The comic Zach Galifianakis asked if she would be excited to be “the first girl president” and whether she would move to Canada if she lost to Donald J. Trump.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Scranton, Pa., last month. Among the hacked material released online were PowerPoint presentations showing step-by-step directions for where he and other officials should walk when they arrived at events.

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Emails from a Democratic operative posted online reveal not only detailed schedules of officials but also personal information of donors and Secret Service agents.

President Obama speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. In nearly eight years in office, he has not had a veto overridden.

Bryan Thomas for The New York Times

Congress is busily preparing to reverse President Obama’s anticipated veto of a bill that would allow families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for damages.

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Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged on Thursday with first-degree manslaughter.

Tulsa Officer Charged in Fatal Shooting of Black Driver


The officer, Betty Shelby, was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed.

Members of Keith L. Scott’s family speaking with a lawyer Thursday at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Courthouse.

Shooting Victim Keith L. Scott Lived Sometimes Troubled but Quiet Life


Those who knew Mr. Scott, a father of seven, present a different picture from the one presented by the police.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel explained his public safety plan during a speech on Thursday, his voice breaking at points.

Rahm Emanuel Proposes More Police and Mentors to Stop Chicago’s Cascading Violence


The city’s soaring rate of murders and shootings this year has captured national attention and become an issue in the presidential campaign.

“It must weigh five pounds,” said the director Mel Brooks, joking about the weight of his National Medal of Arts, presented to him on Thursday by President Obama during a ceremony at the White House.

Presenting America’s Newest Comedy Team: Mel Brooks and Obama


Mr. Brooks stole the show at a White House ceremony in which President Obama awarded National Medals of Arts and Humanities to an “impressive crew.”

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

The Incline, a Pittsburgh-centered “mobile-first site,” reports that Mr. Trumphas been granting open access to reporters and editorial boards from Pennsylvania newspapers, and covered the anti-Trump demonstration outside a Trump event on Thursday.
Reuters reports that Mrs. Clinton “proposed raising taxes on inherited property to 65 percent for the largest estates as she bolstered plans for tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans.”
AARP Bulletin, an arm of the American Association of Retired Persons,interviewed both candidates about where they stand on Social Security, terrorism and other issues.