The first presidential debate is always a matter of significant hype, but it’s often less meaningful than it’s made out to be. Sure, there have been debate moments that have turned the tide, but those moments are few and far between. Don’t forget: in 2012, Obama got his clock cleaned by Mitt Romney in the first debate. That didn’t stop his organizational monster of a campaign from sailing to victory.
This year, things might be a little different. The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump promises to be a game-changer, one way or the other. When the book is written about the 2016 election (well, when the thousands of books are written, that is), it will likely set aside a chapter just for Monday’s Hofstra University debate. The eyes of the world will be on Trump and Clinton. Some media specialists think we could be looking at Super Bowl-level ratings.
Hopefully we won’t have to start referring to it as the “Big Argument” in commercials…
If you go by the usual standards, Hillary Clinton is prepared to have a good night. Already we know that NBC’s Lester Holt will treat the former secretary of state with kid gloves, desperate to avoid the media maelstrom that threw his colleague, Matt Lauer, into the rocks a few weeks ago. We know that the liberal media – from NBC to CNN to the Washington Post – will treat this debate as a victory for Hillary, no matter what happens. And, to be fair, when it comes to debate experience, Hillary is a battle-tested warrior and Trump…isn’t.
So what does that mean? Is Trump in for the trouncing of a lifetime?
Not so fast. That’s what makes Monday night’s encounter so interesting. That’s why tens of millions of Americans are going to be glued to their computers and TV sets. No one – not Hillary, not Lester Holt…perhaps not even Donald Trump – knows exactly what the Republican nominee is going to bring to the stage.
Last month, at a fundraiser in the Hamptons, Hillary admitted that she didn’t know which Trump to prep for. “Maybe he will try to be presidential and try to convey a gravity that he hasn’t done before,” she mused. “Or maybe he will come in and try to insult and try to score some points.”
It’s not easy to prepare for an opponent who could use virtually any strategy in the known universe to gain an edge. Trump could bring up Monica. He could make reference to Hillary’s close association with Robert Byrd. He could flat-out call Bill Clinton a rapist.
Or he could go in an entirely different direction.
In an interview with Bill O’Reilly last Monday, Trump said that he wasn’t planning on bringing any dirty tricks to Hofstra. “I don’t know what I’m going to do that exactly,” Trump said. “If she treats me with respect, I will treat her with respect.”
If there is any room for a rock-solid prediction prior to this debate, let it be this one: Hillary Clinton is not going to treat Donald Trump with respect.
And the counter-punch is going to be brutal.