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Watch the Debate With Us

October 20, 2016 12:18 AM
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Trump, an inferior debater but a born showman, again is trying to knock Clinton off balance with a pre-game display: This time, he’s brought President Obama’s Kenyan-born half-brother Malik, a Trump supporter, and Patricia Smith, the mother of the Benghazi victim Sean Smith, who accuses Clinton of “murdering” her son. President Obama has mastered the chill, arch dismissal of Trump, calling him “insecure,” and on Tuesday suggesting he stop “whining” about vote-rigging. I’m looking to see if Clinton can remain cool during his antics, the way she did in the first debate.

Donald Trump is a spotlight lover who must realize that this last debate is his brightest spotlight until the returns come in late Nov. 8. So he must be tempted to make an unforgettable show of it, exceeding the antics of the second debate. But that could be brand-decimating. So who knows?

So Donald Trump has decided to prep for this debate. Took him awhile. Let’s see if that’s reflected in any change of tone or substance that might attract undecided voters. I’m skeptical. He’s had one tone throughout the campaign — angry — and a single approach based on a single thing, his gut. That’s not working. Hillary Clinton has one main task tonight: avoid a truly damaging mistake. So can Donald change and will Hillary hold firm and steady?

How perfect that this debate is in Las Vegas, a metaphor for this race and Republican nominee. It’s crass. Dangerous. Improbable, stoking life and bright colors from what is actually a desert. It’s all surface. It’s gripped by delusion, which it also fosters. Sound like any billionaire you know?

To your question, Elizabeth, I think the children are wondering and worrying about that sort of thing. I just read a comment form Ivanka saying Dad would do the honorable thing if he loses. Nothing about Dad’s behavior suggests as much.

Elizabeth, quit the taco talk. I can’t fantasize about dinner AND watch the debate at the same time. Not that coordinated or compartmentalized.

While I’m not sure what to expect from Trump, I do feel that Clinton will simply run out the clock. She’s guarding a lead. But I WISH she’d start looking beyond tonight and make some bipartisan nods and some effort to begin the healing so sorely needed after this contest.

Is Giuliani present? Last time he was the theater usher, trying to seat the Bill Clinton accusers in the Trump family box.

I heard tell that Sarah Palin might show up. Is that confirmed? Seemed she was in exile — with Melania — for a long time. Did the two of them get a group rate?

No, no, Christie started putting some distance between himself and Trump this week. But Giuliani just drew closer, whispering sweet nothings in Trump’s hair.

Will be interesting to see how aggressive Chris Wallace will be in his questioning of Clinton, particularly on her emails and the sometimes thin line between the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s exercise of high office. She’s not really been put under pressure by a moderator yet.

Even if Trump is more restrained, there’s no way he doesn’t try to make some hay of the Podesta emails, etc., from WikiLeaks. It would have been an even bigger story if Trump himself didn’t always create bigger, louder messes, giving his rival a break. His own worst enemy.

WikiLeaks provided Trump with plenty of material this week, should he be disciplined enough to raise it.

Deb from Astoria: hard to say. Let’s hope at the least he doesn’t offer another physical appraisal of her. That was … jaw-dropping.

If Trump is smart, Deb, he’ll avoid gratuitous insults and press Clinton on the issues. That’s a big “if.”

Ross, welcome. What are you most intrigued about tonight? What do you expect — or perhaps I should say “fear”?

With Sarah Palin and Drudge in the audience, I feel like we’re witnessing in real-time the Trump campaign’s transition from an organization allegedly competing for the presidency to one laying the groundwork for whatever strange media entity Trump and Steve Bannon imagine they’re going to build once this is all over. So that’s what I’ll be watching for tonight: Lines from Trump that seem like a pitch for a forthcoming streaming political video service, just $19.99 a month.

If discipline is shown by Trump, will Clinton keep her calm or will we see her go after him because of past behaviors?

Joe, the most effective thing Clinton could do is to keep her cool as she did in first debate. He gets visibly rattled when he can’t rattle her.

Joe from Cedar Rapids, I don’t think Clinton will go after Trump unless he leaves her no choice. This is a “first do no harm” situation for her. Truly. And she IS disciplined.

The very presence of Fox’s Chris Wallace is a safeguard against Trump saying the gig was rigged. Which of course doesn’t mean he won’t try.

Joe, Clinton has been very disciplined up to now. She’s made Michelle Obama’s go-high-when-they-go-low her guiding principle. Even though she has perhaps lost opportunities through this approach, it has served her well and I expect she’ll try to stick to it. Can anything rattle her?

Chris Wallace represents the part of Fox that tried to take Trump down in the primaries, Elizabeth — the “cuckservative” wing of Fox, if you will, as opposed to the true-blue Hannity wing.

Nothing, nothing, nothing is a safeguard against Trump’s claiming that something is “rigged.” Please.

Seems to be the coldest entrance of the three debates yet — what might this show us about the rest of the debate?

Ross, you have to stop auditioning for that job as a judge on “Project Runway.” We want to keep you here at The Times.

Yes, the white suit is reminiscent of what she wore when she accepted the nomination. As does Trump’s uniform.

I love that Clinton is giving us a lesson on government procedure. Implicit message: My opponent doesn’t even know how the system functions.

So Trumpian to respond to a defense of liberal judicial activism by complaining that R.B.G. was mean to him.

Ben, I think they both realize this is their last chance to address this many people in an unfiltered way. Perhaps we will see more formality, and perhaps a touch more caution. Boy! Trump just raised the possibility that Hillary might win. That’s new.

“Apologize, she did,” Trump says of the Notorious R.B.G. That is the most surprising syntax from him ever.

Clinton is stuffing her answers with bits of history, bits of procedure. It’s not compelling, but it’s a reminder to all that she KNOWS HER STUFF. She’s campaigning on competence, not charisma.

Oh, spare us. Trump once again crowing about an endorsement that supposedly trumped all other endorsements ever. He’s endorsement-mad. Endorsement-engorged.

So is Clinton going to remind voters that Trump was pro-choice for a long time? And not all that long ago?

Clinton’s dismissal of Trump on abortions in ninth month — “Using that scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate” — is powerful and warranted.

“Poisoning the blood of their youth” is one of those lines you would never hear from a normal politician.

Seems like perhaps there’s some middle ground between “deport them all” and “let’s basically not deport anyone.”

I think she’s making a very effective case against Trump’s approach. Middle ground or no middle ground, she’s making an effective case.

But if you evade that border security, Hillary Clinton promises to eventually make you a citizen (unless you kill someone).

Uh-oh. Clinton just said that Trump “choked.” Will that bring out Bad Donald? I think so. Fasten your seatbelts.


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