Debating the Debates: 2016 Presidential debates


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Some reporting is emerging this week on the state of the game -- the first hints on how each candidate is preparing for the three encounters. For reference, here are the dates and details of the three scheduled events. From the Commission on Presidential Debates' website:


First presidential debate (September 26, 2016, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY)

The debate will be divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.

The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Vice presidential debate (October 4, 2016, Longwood University, Farmville, VA)

The debate will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Second presidential debate (October 9, 2016, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO)

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources. The candidates will have two minutes to respond and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected by the Gallup Organization.

Third presidential debate (October 19, 2016, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV)

The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate.

The second showdown sounds like it could be the most exciting.  

-- what I am wondering about in the run-up to the debates are three related things: how exactly does a candidate prepare for such debates, according to established practice? Will the preparation for the debates necessarily include a kind of 'debate school' for one or the other candidate?  Does Mrs Clinton's experience in Presidential debates tend to outweigh that of Mr Trump in this cycle's GOP candidate debates?

There is a bit of intelligence trickling in from 'insiders' and from each campaign. It looks like Hillary Clinton will be doing the regular, normal, expected kind of preparation, including digesting briefing books, rehearsing with a stand-in, and so on. 

Mr Trump, on the other hand, has been reported to be unconvinced that a full set of  'normal' preparations are needed.   This excerpt from the Washington Post may or may not be true or indicative**:

“Hillary Clinton is methodically preparing for the presidential debates as a veteran lawyer would approach her biggest trial. She pores over briefing books thick with policy arcana and opposition research. She internalizes tips from the most seasoned debate coaches in her party. And she rehearses, over and over again, to perfect the pacing and substance of her presentation.”

“Donald Trump is taking a different approach. He summons his informal band of counselors — including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, talk-radio host Laura Ingraham and ousted Fox News Channel chairman Roger Ailes — to his New Jersey golf course for Sunday chats. Over bacon cheeseburgers, hot dogs and glasses of Coca-Cola, they test out zingers and chew over ways to refine the Republican nominee’s pitch.”

“Trump’s aides have put together briefing books, not that the candidate is devoting much time to reading them. Trump is not holding any mock debates, proudly boasting that a performer with his talents does not need that sort of prepping. Should Trump submit to traditional rehearsals, some associates are talking about casting Ingraham, an adversarial chronicler of Clinton scandals, to play the Democratic nominee.”

-- there is a bit of nasty talk on this purported lack of debate prep, as can be expected.  Here's a sample from Red State:

The Post reports that Trump believes that he is so talented that he doesn’t need to prepare or study ahead of the debates. Instead, Trump plans to show up and overwhelm Clinton with “zingers” that are being written by the team of Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes, and Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s arrogance and laziness are well documented, but the train wreck that he is setting himself up for could take down the entire Republican Party. Trump is going to step on stage with the entire world watching, and wing a presidential debate. Donald Trump is going up against the most qualified person ever to run for the presidency, and he isn’t going to prepare or study.

Debating Hillary Clinton is a whole other universe compared to squaring off against the 16 dwarves that Trump survived against in the GOP primary debates.

During the Republican primary debates, Trump was able to stand back and let the chaos around him consume much of the airtime. In a fall presidential debate, all of the pressure and attention is going to be on him.

There will be nowhere for Trump to hide, and the nation may get to watch an epic disaster unfold before their very eyes because Donald Trump is too lazy to study.

This is a bit over-heated. Trump has never debated one-on-one (I don't think Johnson is going to make the cut).  His campaign should obviously be cognizant of the difference between the GOP debates and the Final Two smackdowns. I think I will watch the very last of the GOP debates for an indication of Trump's debate style -- and how it might effectively counter the wonkier efforts of Clinton.

Highlights of that outing ...

A few things I bear in mind heading into the preparation for the first debate between the top two candidates:  presidential debates rarely if ever do more than 'nudge' voting intentions, according to some critical analyses.  For example, this article was published before the Obama/Romney debates -- "Do Presidential Debates Really Matter? Remember all the famous moments in past debates that changed the outcome of those elections? Well, they didn’t."


Why are presidential debates so often inconsequential? After all, many voters do pay attention. Debates routinely attract the largest audience of any televised campaign event. And voters do learn new information, according to several academic studies. But this new information is not likely to change many minds. The debates occur late in the campaign, long after the vast majority of voters have arrived at a decision. Moreover, the debates tend to attract viewers who have an abiding interest in politics and are mostly party loyalists. Instead of the debates affecting who they will vote for, their party loyalty affects who they believe won the debates. For example, in a CNN poll after one of the 2008 debates, 85 percent of Democrats thought that Obama had won, but only 16 percent of Republicans agreed.

The impact of debates is also limited because the candidates are fairly evenly matched. Each candidate will have read a thick stack of briefing papers and rehearsed extensively. They will stick to their message and won’t be easily rattled. One candidate’s argument will be immediately countered by the other’s. Perhaps one candidate may appear more comfortable than the other. Perhaps one may momentarily slip up while the other does not. But the differences in their respective performances will be small. Candidates sometimes try to lower expectations of their own debate performance by claiming that they are just humble, plainspoken folks while their opponents are the second coming of Cicero. But Erikson and Wlezien’s analysis shows that across the series of debates in any given election year, the candidates tend to fight to a draw—much as one would expect two equally matched candidates to do.

I bear in mind these cautions, but I also bear in mind that Trump is not like any other candidate.  He may believe he simply does not need to 'evenly match' his preparation work with that of Clinton.   Could that make a difference?

Maybe a hypothesis is in order:   the 'state of the race' will not be determined by the debates to any appreciable degree.  There will be no sharp or sudden movement represented in the polls showing voter intention. There will be marginal effects.  That  general hypothesis will be tested against reality.

Any other hypotheses from our OL regulars?


** from The Hill:

Donald Trump and a team of informal campaign advisers will meet at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Sunday to prepare for his first debate against Hillary Clinton on Sept. 26.

Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that the GOP nominee will not be taking the same conventional approach as his opponent, Hillary Clinton, by pouring over thick briefing books.

Instead, he prefers getting ready for his first head-to-lead live encounter with Clinton by testing lines with a group of confidantes, 

They will gather over lunch at the golf club Sunday to plot strategy, Conway confirmed during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

“I’ll be at lunch at Bedminster, and I’m sure we’ll have a lively conversation,” she said. “Look, he’s an unconventional candidate, and he’s not going to prepare the way Hillary does, which is, you know, locking her[self] in a room and crammed [sic] her head with all those binders.”

Edited by william.scherk
Added note on presumed impact of debates; quote from Conway.
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The questions probably will be screened by the candidates. We need some good questions.

For example:  What is the proper function of government?  This would be a very relevant question to put to anyone who wants to become the government. But I doubt it will be asked.

Ayn Rand's answer would be: to protect individual rights, which implies police and military and judicial and maybe treasury and little or nothing else. The answer from Hillary and the answer from Donald would be not the same as Objectivism.

How could we arrange to have some good questions asked?


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This is my attempt to predict what will happen in the debates.

It will be a lying contest. The winner of the debates will be the winner of a lying contest. They will say if I am elected I will do such and such. That means they will tell lies, which is normal for politicians.

But you need to understand something about this kind of lying contest. It is not simply a matter of telling the biggest lie or telling the most lies. Lies are no good unless people believe them. It is a matter of telling the biggest and the most believable lies. Don't expect the lies to be too obvious or to sound much like lies. And remember they are professionals.

Not everything they say will be a lie. They will mix the lies with truth to make the lies more believable. They will tell half truths. They are professionals, crookeder than a dog's hind leg and lower than a snake's belly and slicker than shit.



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Need some good moderators so this doesn't happen again:

This obviously rattled Romney, but watching the Mitt documentary he was a creampuff anyway.  From memory, there is a lot of some behind the scenes debate prep in the movie (edit, starts around 37m).  Also from memory, I remember them praying a lot (edit, praying throughout).

And since I've turned back the clock, O'Reilly conducts a tough interview with Trump in 2011 when Trump thought about running.  O'Reilly's faked amusement and infantilzing is on display here, Trump handles himself well, showing some acumen for foreign affairs.  And to avoid a circumstantial ad hominem, today Trump has Giuliani and others with him so he should be better versed.

But there's a glaring issue: Trump is a businessman and weak on foreign affairs while Hillary was the Secretary of State---I expect him to get creamed here.  There's only so many whiz-bang redirects to the Clinton Foundation that he'll be able to do, I suspect that Hillary wants to uncover Trump doesn't have the knowledge she has.  It's just reality he doesn't.  Yet, this is where the negotiations on what questions are asked by moderators comes into play, and who the moderators are.

Another thought: why haven't we heard about Trump U lately?

I suspect we will hear about it again in the debates.

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Found a good CNN article from 2012, "Do U.S. presidential debates matter?"

Do debates even matter to the public?
While the debates offer Romney and Obama a chance to expand on their views and rebut each other's plans directly, experts say that the vast majority of Americans have already decided who they're voting for along party lines.
But although debates aren't typically seen as deciding an election's outcome, there have been a few exceptions over time.
Kennedy's telegenic dominance of Nixon during the first televised debate helped swing momentum in the Democrat's direction in 1960.
In a 1980 debate, facing a barrage of assertions and accusations from incumbent Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan coolly replied with a smile: "There you go again." His famous retort momentarily took the wind out of Carter's sails. After entering debate season behind in opinion polls, eventual winner Reagan left the podium with the advantage over Carter.
Sometimes it's not the debate that hurts a candidate - it's the post-game review. In 2000, cameras caught a visibly annoyed Al Gore sighing and shaking his head when George W. Bush spoke.
The clip was played over and over again and lampooned on television, to the point that "people began to project onto Gore a personality trait of just annoyance and irritation of people in general," according to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. A clear favorite before the debates, Gore lost his lead during the debate season. He eventually lost the controversial election after the Supreme Court ruled in Bush's favor.
I'm going to say 2016 is likely one of the exception years.  Trump vs. Clinton is likely to draw a yuge viewership, and Trump has already shown he has the ability to appeal to democrat voters.
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18 hours ago, jts said:

The questions probably will be screened by the candidates.

The candidates and their campaigns will try to anticipate questions, but the actual questions are not released to each side. In the first and last Presidential debates, however, the 'subject areas' of the segments will be made public a week before the day of the debate.  In the ersatz Town Hall debate, the questions will in some part come from the audience.  

Giving the candidates the exact questions beforehand might take away any spontaneity remaining in the structured encounters. . 

14 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

But there's a glaring issue: Trump is a businessman and weak on foreign affairs while Hillary was the Secretary of State---I expect him to get creamed here.  There's only so many whiz-bang redirects to the Clinton Foundation that he'll be able to do, I suspect that Hillary wants to uncover Trump doesn't have the knowledge she has.  It's just reality he doesn't.  

I don't expect Trump to get 'creamed' on foreign policy, in the sense of being left onstage with no pants, so to speak. He can utter speech extemporaneously on many subjects, and in many ways his signal policies (The Wall, restricted immigration, re-negotiating trade deals like NAFTA, reviewing NATO commitments, identifying 'terror incubator' countries) are already programmed in his mind.

I can see multiple Clinton utterances on foreign policy, all sounding a bit like "Wonk, wonk wonk."  Trump can cut through the wonkishness and speak plainly of the broad strokes of his plans.   I think that the emotional power of his utterances could 'sink the ball' -- even if Clinton has more ready facts at her fingertips.  

I kind of expect Trump to offer a view from 10,000 feet, whereas Clinton will offer a wonked-out ground operation.  One view will 'sing' and the other will not.

14 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

I'm going to say 2016 is likely one of the exception years.  Trump vs. Clinton is likely to draw a yuge viewership, and Trump has already shown he has the ability to appeal to democrat voters.

Judging from the number of erstwhile Republicans who have endorsed Mrs Clinton, this might be a draw. ... 

One of the things both of the 'Do Debates "Matter"' articles stress is that the electorate has mostly set its intentions (though neither article references underlying data) by the dates in question.  In which case, I will be watching for the 'non-effect' of the exercises. 

Another angle to appreciate knock-on effects of the debates is the Extreme Spinning in the immediate aftermath. This can be a function of expectancies attached to each candidate.  Mrs Clinton will be going in to the events with a reputation X.  Will she live up to that? In the same manner, the expected Trump debate-readiness and ability Y will offer a differing baseline for Spin.


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From the NYT today, "Hillary Clinton Piles Up Research in Bid to Needle Donald Trump at First Debate"

Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal,” seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him in four weeks at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation.

Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump to gauge how he may respond to attacks and deal with a woman as his sole adversary on the debate stage.

They are undertaking a forensic-style analysis of Mr. Trump’s performances in the Republican primary debates, cataloging strengths and weaknesses as well as trigger points that caused him to lash out in less-than-presidential ways.

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This video is from MSNBC, more in depth than the previous one: "Which Donald Trump Will Show Up At The Debate?"

And then, which Hillary will show up to the first debate?  Crier Hillary, victim Hillary, stern Hillary, angry Hillary, laughing Hillary, seizure Hillary?

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49 minutes ago, KorbenDallas said:

This video is from MSNBC, more in depth than the previous one: "Which Donald Trump Will Show Up At The Debate?"

And then, which Hillary will show up to the first debate?  Crier Hillary, victim Hillary, stern Hillary, angry Hillary, laughing Hillary, seizure Hillary?

Hillary riding  her broom?

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12 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

This video is from MSNBC, more in depth than the previous one: "Which Donald Trump Will Show Up At The Debate?"

And then, which Hillary will show up to the first debate?  Crier Hillary, victim Hillary, stern Hillary, angry Hillary, laughing Hillary, seizure Hillary?

Hillary riding  her broom?

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11 hours ago, wolfdevoon said:

I think the correct strategy for Trump is to be a perfect gentleman, say little, explain his position(s), yield back time for Hillary to attack him.

Correct.  If Trump plays it right he can have  Hillary sounding shrill.  If  Trump can game Hillary into sounding like she is having a major PMS attack he will win, regardless of the merit/demerit of his positions. 

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It looks like Trump is getting advice on his debate prep -- and today's immigration speech -- from Mexican president Pena Nieto. According to Infowars:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and RNC chairman Reince Priebus are also expected to attend the meeting, according to reports.

The meeting is said by the Mexican president to be 'privado.'  I don't think that anyone will consider its contents private, however.  The Lifezette link at the Inforwars article suggests the two men will briefly appear for media statements after the meeting ends, but the duo will not be taking questions. 'Reports say' that there will be no media accompanying the candidate on his plane -- so the encounter will be covered by stringers and correspondents and the local media in Mexico City.

[Added] -- no doubt arranging for the media corps travel was too complicated at the last minute. In any case, the Lifezette story suggestion that there would be no 'availability' to media is probably wrong, since Mr Trump's campaign manager said today that the candidate and the president will be taking questions after their statements:


Edited by william.scherk
Added note about Trump's kitchen cabinet ride-alongs
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From Politico:


Commission names moderators for presidential debates

By HADAS GOLD 09/02/16 09:29 AM EDT

NBC's Lester Holt, ABC's Martha Raddatz, CNN's Anderson Cooper, Fox News' Chris Wallace and CBS' Elaine Quijano will moderate presidential and vice presidential debates this fall, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday.



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OLers may have missed this or similar headlines, from the Denver Post:

Donald Trump agrees to participate in all three presidential debates

-- the hypnotic shape-shifting nightmare is not from the Denver Post.

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On 8/29/2016 at 9:47 AM, william.scherk said:

I don't expect Trump to get 'creamed' on foreign policy, in the sense of being left onstage with no pants, so to speak. He can utter speech extemporaneously on many subjects, and in many ways his signal policies (The Wall, restricted immigration, re-negotiating trade deals like NAFTA, reviewing NATO commitments, identifying 'terror incubator' countries) are already programmed in his mind.

I can see multiple Clinton utterances on foreign policy, all sounding a bit like "Wonk, wonk wonk."  Trump can cut through the wonkishness and speak plainly of the broad strokes of his plans.   I think that the emotional power of his utterances could 'sink the ball' -- even if Clinton has more ready facts at her fingertips.  

We get an early glimpse of how the two candidates might perform in the upcoming presidential debates. Breitbart reports on tonight's MSNBC/NBC encounter with the two. Not quite a debate:

Fight Night: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump To Face Off Directly For First Time At Commander-in-Chief Forum

The Commander-in-Chief Forum is a first-of-its-kind event and will be broadcast live on MSNBC and most NBC stations starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Lauer, a former “notable member” of the Clinton Global Initiative—a leadership arm of the highly controversial Clinton Foundation—will moderate the event, which is being put on by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization here in New York City.

“During this one-hour forum, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be on stage back-to-back taking questions on national security, military affairs and veterans issues from NBC News and an audience comprised mainly of military veterans and active service members,” MSNBC states.

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Wolf in his best, satiric imitation of Jonathan Swift said: I think the correct strategy for Trump is to be a perfect gentleman, say little, explain his position(s), yield back time for Hillary to attack him. end quote

And going with the con, Ba’al answered: Correct.  If Trump plays it right he can have Hillary sounding shrill.  If Trump can game Hillary into sounding like she is having a major PMS attack he will win, regardless of the merit/demerit of his positions. end quote

Justice is the armed defense of innocent liberty.  Hell, yes! I think each candidate should be packing a six shooter and if at any time they take offense, they can shoot it out like Hamilton and Burr.

Watch your mouth, Trump! Leave my family out of this!

Yeah? What are you going to do, you ugly old bag? You keep coughing because you are full of shit. Acid reflux my ass.

The Moderator holds his hands up in a call for calm and says, “Remember candidates, there are innocents in the audience, so keep those revolvers holstered.”

Tell Mr. foul mouth to stick to policy.

Moderator: “That was a low blow, Candidate Trump. Remember this is being watched by over a hundred million voters.”

Bull shit. You are in this with her. Luckily I packed the Town Hall with my kind of people!

The crowd starts chanting DJ, DJ, DJ!


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Not everyone will have made time for the hour on NBC/MSNBC. One half hour with Clinton, one half-hour with Trump.  Not a lot of time, and yet a prize for each candidate -- free time to speak  to prospective voters.  Time to 'act,' act smart, act informed, act in control, act tough. 

Mr Trump made his exchanges with moderator Matt Lauer more conversational than Mrs Clinton, to my ear and eye.  She tended to respond with (too much?) detail, and to "speak in paragraphs."  He responded with lesser amounts of detail, and generally turned questions back to his campaign themes. Here I include some passages extracted from the transcript at Washington Post.  (Videos of the encounters are here. TIME also has a transcript)

I kind of cheap out on Clinton answers, since she says little or nothing new-ish or notable. Trump's responses are more interesting to me, and hopefully to dear OL readers.  I have highlighted or emphasized some areas of oddity or notability.

CLINTON: Thank you very much. I'm happy you're doing this.

LAUER: Let me -- thank you very much, I'm happy to be here. Let me ask you something ahead of time that I'll ask Mr. Trump in a half an hour. To the best of your ability tonight, can we talk about your qualities and your qualifications to be commander-in-chief and not use this as an opportunity to attack Mr. Trump, all right? And I'll ask him the exact  same thing.[...]

LAUER: What is the most important characteristic that a commander-in-chief can possess?[...]

JACKSON: Hi, Matt. I'm with Lieutenant Jon Lester (ph), who will stand with me here. He began his military career by enlisting in the Air Force and then switched over to the Navy before he retired, where he flew P-3 Orions in Desert Storm and in Desert Shield. He's a Republican, and he has this question for you, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for coming tonight. As a naval flight officer, I held a top secret  sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access to materials and information highly sensitive to our warfighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are entrusted with America's most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security? [...]

LAUER: What have you experienced in your personal life or your professional life that you believe prepares you to make the decisions that a commander-in-chief has to make?[...]

JACKSON: I'm with Ernie Young. Come on up here with me, a former Army captain, who led troops during tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He's an independent voter. And you have a question for the secretary.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, as an Army veteran, a commander-in- chief's to empathize with servicemembers and their families is important to me. The ability to truly understand implications and consequences of your decisions, actions, or inactions. How will you determine when and where to deploy troops directly into harm's way, especially to combat ISIS?

LAUER: As briefly as you can.

CLINTON: We have to defeat ISIS. That is my highest counterterrorism goal. And we've got to do it with air power. We've got to do it with much more support for the Arabs and the Kurds who will fight on the ground against ISIS. We have to squeeze them by continuing to support the Iraqi military. They've taken back Ramadi, Fallujah. They've got to hold them. They've got to now get into Mosul.

We're going to work to make sure that they have the support -- they have special forces, as you know, they have enablers, they have surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance help.

They are not going to get ground troops. We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we're not putting ground troops into Syria. We're going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops. So those are the kinds of decisions we have to make on a case-by-case basis.

And, remember, when I became secretary of state, we had 200,000 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I'm very grateful that we have brought home the vast majority of those. We have a residual force, as you know, in Afghanistan. We have built up several thousands of the folks that I've talked about who are assisting in the fight against ISIS.

But it is in our national security interest to defeat ISIS. And I intend to make that happen.

LAUER: Secretary Clinton, I am fast running out of time. I want to get to one of the concerns just about everybody in this country, and that is terror attacks on our soil.


LAUER: Either directed by ISIS or inspired by ISIS. Would your message as the next president of the United States or potential next president be to Americans that we simply are living in the reality that those attacks will happen? And can you guarantee people that after four years of a Clinton presidency, they will be safer on the streets of San Bernardino or Boston than they are today?

CLINTON: Well, Matt, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that that's the result. I'm not going to, you know, promise something that I think most thinking Americans know is going to be a huge challenge, and here's why.

We've got to have an intelligence surge. We've got to get a lot more cooperation out of Europe, out of the Middle East. We have to do a better job of not only collecting and analyzing the intelligence we do have, but distributing it much more quickly down the ladder to state and local law enforcement.

We also have to do a better job combating ISIS online, where they recruit, where they radicalize. And I don't thinkwe're doing as much as we can. We need to work with Silicon Valley. We need to work with our experts in ourgovernment. We have got to disrupt, we have got to take them on in the arena of ideas that, unfortunately, polluteand capture the minds of vulnerable people. So we need to wage this war against ISIS from the air, on the ground,and online, in cyberspace.

And here at home, for goodness's sakes, we have to finally pass a law prohibiting people on the terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun in the United States of America. So we've got work to do. I know we can do that work. I'm meeting with a group of terror experts, counterterrorism experts.
But I want to just say one additional thing.

LAUER: I've got 30 seconds left.

CLINTON: Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Center on Counterterrorism, has a great article out today saying the last thing we need to do is to play into the hands of ISIS. Going after American Muslims, defaming a Gold Star family, the family of Captain Khan, making it more difficult for us to have a coalition with Muslim majority nations...

LAUER: And we tried to have an agreement...

CLINTON: ... that is not going to help us to succeed in defeating ISIS and protecting our American homeland.

LAUER: Secretary Hillary Clinton, thank you very much


LAUER: So let me read some of the things you've said. "I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me." Was that the truth?

TRUMP: Well, the generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful. ISIS...

LAUER: Do you know more about ISIS than they do?

TRUMP: I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it's embarrassing for our country. You have a force of 30,000 or so people. Nobody really knows. But probably 30,000 people. And I can just see the great -- as an example- General George Patton spinning in his grave as ISIS we can't beat. We had the greatest...


LAUER: Yeah, you've said if we had MacArthur today or if we had Patton today, we would not have ISIS, that the rise of these military commanders that we have today, they come up the chain of command, and by the time they get to the top, they're too politically correct. And we know that's not a compliment coming from you. Have you lost faith in the military commanders?

TRUMP: I have great faith in the military. I have great faith in certain of the commanders, certainly. But I have no faith in Hillary Clinton or the leadership. You look at what's happened. And, you know, when she comes in and starts saying, oh, I would have done this, I would have -- she's been there for 30 years. I mean, we need change, Matt. We have to have it, and we have to have it fast.

JACKSON: I'm with Phillip Clay (ph), who was a public affairs officer in the Marine Corps. He spent a year in Anbar province in Iraq. He left the military with the rank of captain, service that inspired him to write a book. He's a Democrat, and he has this question for you, Mr. Trump.

QUESTION: Mr. Trump, over the past 15 years, a lot of U.S. troops have bled and died securing towns and provinces from Iraq to Afghanistan, only to have insurgent groups like ISIS spring back the moment we leave. Now, you've claimed to have a secret plan to defeat ISIS. But you're hardly the first politician to promise a quick victory and a speedy homecoming. So assuming we do defeat ISIS, what next? What is your plan for the region to ensure that a group like them doesn't just come back?

TRUMP: Sure. I mean, part of the problem that we've had is we go in, we defeat somebody, and then we don't know what we're doing after that. We lose it, like as an example, you look at Iraq, what happened, how badly that was handled. And then when President Obama took over, likewise, it was a disaster. It was actually somewhat stable. I don't think could ever be very stable to where we should have never gone into in the first place.

But he came in. He said when we go out -- and he took everybody out. And really, ISIS was formed. This was a terrible decision. And frankly, we never even got a shot. And if you really look at the aftermath of Iraq, Iran is going to be taking over Iraq. They've been doing it. And it's not a pretty picture.

The -- and I think you know -- because you've been watching me I think for a long time -- I've always said, shouldn't be there, but if we're going to get out, take the oil. If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn't have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.

LAUER: How were we going to take the oil? How were we going to do that?

TRUMP: Just we would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil. They have -- people don't know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world, in the entire world.

And we're the only ones, we go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then, Matt, what happens is, we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils. Now, there was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: Take the oil.

One of the benefits we would have had if we took the oil is ISIS would not have been able to take oil and use that oil...

LAUER: Let me stay on ISIS... 

TRUMP: ... to fuel themselves.

LAUER: Let me stay on ISIS. When we've met in the past and we've talked, you say things like I'm going to bomb the expletive out of them very quickly. And when people like me press you for details like that gentleman just said on what your plan is, you very often say, I'm not going to give you the details because I want to be unpredictable.

TRUMP: Absolutely. The word is unpredictable.

LAUER: But yesterday, you actually told us a little bit about your plan in your speech. You said this. Quote, "We're going to convene my top generals and they will have 30 days to submit a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS." So is the plan you've been hiding this whole time asking someone else for their plan?

TRUMP: No. But when I do come up with a plan that I like and that perhaps agrees with mine, or maybe doesn't -- I may love what the generals come back with. I will convene...

LAUER: But you have your own plan?

TRUMP: I have a plan. But I want to be -- I don't want to -- look. I have a very substantial chance of winning. Make America great again. We're going to make America great again. I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don't want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.

LAUER: But you're going to...

TRUMP: And let me tell you, if I like maybe a combination of my plan and the generals' plan, or the generals' plan, if I like their plan, Matt, I'm not going to call you up and say, "Matt, we have a great plan." This is what Obama does. "We're going to leave Iraq on a certain day."

LAUER: But you're going to convene a panel of generals, and you've already said you know more about ISIS than those generals do.

TRUMP: Well, they'll probably be different generals, to be honest with you. I mean, I'm looking at the generals, today, you probably saw, I have a piece of paper here, I could show it, 88 generals and admirals endorsed me today.


LAUER: You've had a very different background, in business. So nobody would expect you to have taken over the last 20 years really deep dives into some of these issues. But I'm curious about what you're doing now. What kind of research are you doing now? What kind of homework are you doing? What kind of things are you reading as you prepare for the day in two months where you might be elected the next president of the United States?

TRUMP: Sure. Well, in the front row, you have four generals. You have admirals. We have people all throughout the audience that I'm dealing with. Right here is a list that was just printed today of 88 admirals and generals that I meet with and I talk to.

LAUER: How much time are you spending on this?

TRUMP: I'm also -- a lot. A lot. And I'm doing a lot of different things. Don't forget, we're running a big campaign. We're doing very well. I'm also, you know, and I'm very much giving it to my children and my executives to run, I'm also partially running a business. I'm campaigning, I'm running a business. I've got a lot of hats right now. But we're doing very well. But in the meantime, I am studying. And I'm meeting constantly -- you see -- you see General Flynn and you see some of the folks that we have, and they're scattered throughout the audience. So we have admirals, we have generals, we have colonels. We have a lot of people that I respect.

And I think I've learned a lot. But I think, also, I certainly -- I really feel I have a common sense on the various issues that you're talking about, Matt.

LAUER: You said in the speech today, you said history shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is the greatest.

TRUMP: And we're not prepared.

LAUER: Will you be prepared on day one, if you're elected president of the United States, to tackle these complex national security issues?

TRUMP: One hundred percent. Hey, Matt, again, she made a mistake on Libya. She made a terrible mistake on Libya. And the next thing, I mean, not only did she make the mistake, but then they complicated the mistake by having no management once they bombed you know what out of Gadhafi. I mean, she made a terrible mistake on Libya. And part of it was the management aftereffect. I think that we have great management talents, great management skills.

LAUER: But you are prepared?

TRUMP: And I have to tell you -- totally prepared. But remember this. I found this subject and these subjects of interest all of my life, Matt. This hasn't been over the last 14 months. I've found these substantiates of tremendous interest. That's why they were asking me about Iraq 14 years ago. They were asking me these questions. They don't ask businesspeople those questions.


JACKSON: I do. Alex Gronkowski (ph) was an Army staff sergeant assigned in special operations. He was stationed at Fort Bragg and was deployed to Afghanistan and other places across the Middle East. He has not decided who he will vote for yet in November. And you have a question for Mr. Trump.

QUESTION: I do. Mr. Trump, as you know, tensions between the United States and Russia have been at the highest level since the Cold War. In your first 120 days of presidency, how would you de-escalate the tensions? And more importantly, what steps would you take to bring Mr. Putin and the Russian government back to negotiating table?

TRUMP: I think I would have a very good relationship with many foreign leaders. I think it's very sad, when you look at Barack Obama, as an example, lands Air Force One in China, and they don't want to put out stairs to get off the plane. And he has to use the stairs that mechanics use to get up and down to fix the plane. They wouldn't give him stairs.

I think it's very sad, when he lands in Saudi Arabia, and he lands in Cuba, and there aren't high officials to even greet him. This is the first time in the history -- the storied history of Air Force One.

I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.

As I said, take a look today. Take a look at what happened with their fighter jets circling one of our aircraft in a very dangerous manner. Somebody said less than 10 feet away. This is hostility.

And I saw, just two or three days ago, they looked like they were not exactly getting along, but I looked at President Obama and Putin staring at each other. These were not two people that were getting along.

And, you know, the beautiful part of getting along, Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS? Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?

LAUER: Let me ask you about some of the things you've said about Vladimir Putin. You said, I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he's getting an A, our president is not doing so well. And when referring to a comment that Putin made about you, I think he called you a brilliant leader, you said it's always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and beyond.

TRUMP: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating, according to the different pollsters, who, by the way, some of them are based right here. Look, look...

LAUER: He's also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad in Syria, supports Iran, is trying to undermine our influence in key regions of the world, and according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers...


TRUMP: Well, nobody knows that for a fact. But do you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time?

LAUER: But do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?

TRUMP: Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I'll take the compliment, OK? The fact is, look, it's not going to get him anywhere. I'm a negotiator. We're going to take back our country. You look at what's happening to our country, you look at the depleted military. You look at the fact that we've lost our jobs. We're losing our jobs like we're a bunch of babies. We're going to take back our country, Matt. The fact that he calls me brilliant or whatever he calls me is going to have zero impact.

LAUER: But the fact that you say you can get along with him, do you think the day...

TRUMP: I think I'd be able to get along with him.

LAUER: Do you think the day that you become president of the United States, he's going to change his mind on some of these key issues?

TRUMP: Possibly. It's possible. I don't know, Matt. It's possible. And it's not going to have any impact. If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him. I've already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't that a terrible thing -- the man has very strong control over a country.

Now, it's a very different system, and I don't happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.
We have a divided country. We have a country where you have Hillary Clinton with her e-mails that nobody's ever seen where she deletes 33,000 e-mails, and that's after getting a subpoena from Congress. If you do that in private business, you get thrown in jail.


Matt Lauer is getting some heat** for defects in his handling of the two candidates. I think he did the best that he could.  He had a different 'style' with each candidate, because in many ways Trump is a more assured, dominant partner in a conversational exchange. That role or act Trump inhabits very well. He can kind of push through the format to deliver a variant of a stump speech. 

So in my early analysis, this encounter shows us how the three debates to come will be 'played.'   

Clinton was boring, because predictable. She is the 'cool' candidate, whereas Trump is 'warm. I think his answers were shallow and in some cases uninformed or bizarre.   

The most interesting part of all I thought was how Trump 'read the room' ... the overwhelming military audience. How well briefed was he on the kinds of things to say?  How much was he winging it? Is the going to be any different in style and depth of response in the coming face-offs?



 Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Matt Lauer's Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I've Seen in This Campaign  —  I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major party candidates.
i18.jpg Michael M. Grynbaum / New York Times:
Matt Lauer Fields Storm of Criticism Over Clinton-Trump Forum  —  It was a high-stakes political moment, far from the chummier confines of the “Today” show and, for Matt Lauer, NBC's stalwart of the morning, a chance to prove his broadcasting mettle on the presidential stage.  —  The consensus afterward was not kind.
i22.jpg Matthew Yglesias / Vox:
Matt Lauer totally blew it on Trump's blatant lying about Iraq and Libya  —  “I heard Hillary Clinton say I was not against the war in Iraq,” Donald Trump told Matt Lauer during Wednesday night's Commander-in-Chief Forum.  “I was totally against the war in Iraq.  You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004.
i11.jpg Michael Calderone / The Huffington Post:
Matt Lauer Failed The Moderator Test  —  At NBC's “Commander-in-Chief Forum,” the host let Donald Trump slide on false Iraq and Libya claims he's made all campaign.  —  NEW YORK Wednesday night's “Commander-in-Chief Forum” on NBC should have gone down as the first time the two 2016 presidential candidate shared a stage.


Edited by william.scherk
Removed cursed 'hard-return' artifacts. <BR>
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Not too much new to report, other than that Donald Trump made some noises about not having a moderator at all ... from the sometimes-crabby Them, the Hill, written by Jesse Byrnes yesterday: 


Trump: I don't want moderator for debate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday called for a debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton without a moderator.

He said a debate with a moderator could be "rigged" and would be unfair. 

"I think maybe we should have no moderator. Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate, because I think the system is being rigged so it's going to be a very unfair debate," Trump said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"I think we should have a debate with no moderator, just Hillary and I sitting there talking," he said.
Trump cited last week's "Commander-in-Chief Forum" on NBC moderated by Matt Lauer, whose performance was panned, including by The New York Times and Clinton's campaign.
"The system is being gamed," Trump declared Monday. "They all said I won and that Matt Lauer was easy on me. Well, he wasn't. I thought he was very professional, I have to be honest. I think he's been treated very unfairly. "
"What they're doing is they're gaming the system so that when I go into the debate, I'm going to be treated very, very unfairly by the moderators," Trump said. 
He argued that the perception that Lauer was "soft on Trump" was being promoted so the next Clinton-Trump moderator will try to be "really hard on Trump."


Ho hum.

It looks like some bright things have organized some questions for the top four candidates. Here's an excerpt from what the candidates/campaigns have provided, question three.





3. Climate Change

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton (D)

When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world. That’s why as President, I will work both domestically and internationally to ensure that we build on recent progress and continue to slash greenhouse gas pollution over the coming years as the science clearly tells us we must.

I will set three goals that we will achieve within ten years of taking office and which will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21stcentury:

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of my first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

To get there, my administration will implement and build on the range of pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives that have made the United States a global leader in the battle against climate change. These standards are also essential for protecting the health of our children, saving American households and businesses billions of dollars in energy costs, and creating thousands of good paying jobs. 

These standards set the floor, not the ceiling. As President, I will launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with those states, cities, and rural communities across the country that are ready to take the lead on clean energy and energy efficiency, giving them the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed. 

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (R)

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.”  Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water.  Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria.  Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population.  Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels.  We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson (L)

This candidate has not yet responded

Jill Stein
Jill Stein (G)

Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. Here is how we will act to address it:

Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

• Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

• Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted.




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Jills's position is -typical- of the chicken little school of anthropogenic climate change.   "Oh God!"  "We will become the Planet Venus next week!"  

That atmosphere of Venus is 960,000 ppm CO2.    The atmosphere of earth i 390 ppm  CO2.

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These are both pretty generic party positions ... on the one hand "trust the science" and on the other hand, "we need more study."

16 hours ago, Hillary Clinton said:

When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear. Climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time and its impacts are already being felt at home and around the world.

What is crystal clear?  

I would guess she means that august scientific bodies funded by the state have spoken:  the earth is warming relatively quickly, due to historically-high CO2 in the atmosphere. Knock-on effects and regionally-intense effects are -- we are told -- observable in warming oceans, sea-level rise, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, reduced snow coverage, declining Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification and increased extreme events.

These observables are of course, subject to doubt -- especially since there is a gulf break between Republicans and Democrats

16 hours ago, Donald J Trump said:

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.”  

Isn't that refreshing?   So much to investigate.  

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