Political News

Trump vs Clinton: The debate for the ages

By Robert J. Garrison

I love waking up Sunday morning during football season. I eagerly turn on the pregame shows and watch the panel breakdown the strengths and weaknesses of each team, give keys to winning the game, and give their predictions to who will win. This is the outline I am going to use for the much-anticipated Monday night debate.

Breakdown of the Candidates

Donald Trump


  1. One of Trumps biggest strengths is that he has many years of experience being a TV producer. He knows how to play to the camera, he knows how to promote (build drama), and he knows how to draw people in. That experience helps Trump connect with people whether they are at his rallies or watching him on TV.
  2. He’s very skilled at the art of spin. What I mean by that is he is skillful at not actually answering the questions asked of him and turning it to a subject that he wishes to comment on or bring attention to. He has done this all throughout the primaries, while he was going up against multiple candidates. He has also done this on countless TV interviews, which most let him get away with because they are happy to have a candidate who is very willing to come on their program and speak. The question is can he do this for 90 minutes when it’s just him and one other candidate?
  3. Trump is great at free publicity. The media reports on everything he says, does, or tweets. Trump knows this which is why he isn’t spending money like crazy like Hillary is doing. Hillary’s campaign has spent 1 million more a DAY than the Trump campaign last month. Also Trump is a mass consumer of media and news. He is always aware of what the top stories are during a given news cycle and he seizes on them.
  4. Trump speaks his mind and doesn’t speak like a normal politician. Many people are sick and tired of hearing politicians give the same old tired answers that have been sifted through focus groups or polished by advisors. People like Trump because they can relate to what he says and it comes in a straight forward manner. While this is a strength for Trump it is also a weakness which we will look at now.


  1. Sometimes Trump doesn’t have a filter and this can get him into trouble. His off the cuff remarks makes him appear as crude, distasteful and unpresidential. Many of his comments have gotten him in hot water with the media: His comments on the subjects of woman, the use of nuclear weapons and proliferation of them, dealing with protesters and those in the media that attack him, just to name a few. If he wants to win the debate and the election he’s got to tone it down a little.
  2. His lack of detailed policies positions. The fact or appearance of that he isn’t well versed in polices make him a target of Hillary’s criticism. Trump needs to “bone up” on policies and give some details on his own policies if he wants independents to take him seriously.
  3. His inability to allow an attack to go unanswered. Trump always hits back at every attack leveled against him which gets him off message. He’s got to let some attacks go and stay focused on the issues of the economy, immigration, and terrorism.

Keys to the debate

The bar has been lowered so much for Trump that all he has to do is be calm and not allow himself to come unhinged. Also I believe he needs to add details to his positions which he is starting to do on the campaign trail. Trump must also have a post-debate ground game. He’s got to make sure his campaign surrogates get out on the news shows and provide their own narrative that counters Clinton’s.  Lastly he must continue to connect with the audience as he has in previous debates.

Hillary Clinton


  1. She is by far the most experienced candidate on either side that is running this year. Her positions as first lady, senator and secretary of state give her vast experience over Trump when it comes to knowing the government and how it works. Also her ability to give detailed answers to policy questions is far superior to Trump’s. She doesn’t need to “bone up” on policies or positions.
  2. Her ability to spin the issues or narrative is a huge strength. She can stay on focus and rarely gets sidetracked or allows herself to go down a rabbit hole, unlike Trump.
  3. The media has always been on her side. She will have a post-debate ground game of pundits and surrogates going on TV and spinning the debate and the narrative. She has always had a better ground game in this area. The Clinton machine is a well oiled one that knows how to get the message out with exception of social media which leads me to her first weakness.


  1. Her lack of leveraging social media to her advantage is a problem. I guarantee that the media will cover Trump’s tweets post-debate but they won’t care or cover Clinton’s. Trump has by far the advantage and a bigger foot print on social media than Clinton.
  2. Her inability to just stop trying to twist and spin her scandals is another problem. When she or her campaign tries to “explain” their way out of a scandal or blame someone else for it, the respective issue just comes off as typical political speak and it turns voters off. It also plays into the narrative that she is distrustful and is just more of the same. This is the year that voters want something different, someone fresh; when Hillary fails to just take blame for her mistakes it just reminds voters as to why they don’t like her.
  3. Her voice gets animated like nails across a chalkboard. It turns men off because it reminds them of their nagging wife/girlfriend. Her voice is shrill and just hits the ear wrong.

Keys to the debate

She must be able to convince viewers that she is trustful, which is hard to do in a debate format. She must continue to show her command of the issues and policies but she must do so in a way that connects with the voters. She can’t give long drawn out details about positions and polices, she must give short and concise answers in simple and plain words. Don’t yell, for God sake please don’t yell.


Well this one is so easy that even a 8-year-old can call this one – Trump wins! The hype about this debate is tailor-made for a person like Trump. Trump knows this debate is partly a show and that is where he is at his best. The unrest in Charlotte plays into Trump’s narrative of America needing a strong leader to restore order. Also Hillary’s ploy to invite Trump critic Mark Cuban to sit in the front row during the debate backfired when Trump responded that he might invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate as well. Hillary fails to realize that the debate is half show and half serious. She will address it as a serious manner without addressing the show aspect of it.

In fact I believe this debate will be similar to the Kennedy vs Nixon debate. People who heard the debate on the radio thought Nixon won but those that watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy won it. Those that listen to Monday’s debate (are there any that do?) will think Hillary won but those that watch (which many are saying this will be the biggest rating and audience of any debate in history) will think Trump won.


Robert J. Garrison is a political and religious writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, follow him on Twitter or on Facebook, or catch up on his articles in the Archives

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 


Photo credit: PanamPost



Copyright ©2016 – The Systems Scientist


13 replies »

  1. What we can predict is that Trump supporters will say Trump won, and Hillary supporters will say Hillary won.
    The Trump supporters will point to a strong voice, consistent emphasis on how terrible America is today because of Obama and Clinton, and how wonderful America will be with Trump because Trump alone can fix our nation.
    The Hillary supporters will point to details, policies, and experience, and how vague and contradictory Trump is, and how Trump has no clue that being a president is not the same as being a CEO of a company, and you can’t bluster and insult and default as a practical means of keeping America great.
    The real measure of who won will come in 7 days or so, when we see if RealClearPolitics budges from its 2% advantage for Clinton, of if 538 changes its 284 to 254 electoral votes prediction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your assessment. History has shown us that the bumped in the polls after a strong debate performance only lasts about a week to 10 days.
      Yet one debate does not equate to a win in Nov, just ask Romney who cleaned Obama’s click in the first debate only to go on to lose in a landslide. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent points and comment! There are definitely two narratives. However, Trump isn’t the usual candidate and utilizing traditional means to measure a debate win or loss may not necessarily work in this instance, or this election for that matter. There is an argument to be made that Trump is completely changing the game of electoral politics right in front our eyes. Thanks for commenting and always feel free to do so.

      TSS Staff

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Trump supporters will point to a strong voice, consistent emphasis on how terrible America is today because of Obama and Clinton, and how wonderful America will be with Trump because Trump alone can fix our nation. <======= Like it

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appericate you reading my article and commenting Martin. Hillary is a policy wonk which appeals to the elities and pundits but not with voters so much, which is why I give her a very slight razors edge win.

      Trump connected with the voters which in my opinion could he more impactful come election day. We will see in the upcoming polls. I am betting that Trump gets a small bounce. Why do I say that? South Carolina GOP primary debate!

      Everyone agreed that it was Trump’s worst performance, I mean he blamed Bush, who is extremely popular in SC) for going into Iraq! That’s a liberal position not a GOP position especially one who is trying to win the nomination. Yet Trump’s numbers soared and not only that he won the states primary!

      Conventional policy analysis has gone out the window when it comes to Trump. The media and pundits really have no clue how to predict what will happen with Trump or his numbers. Trump has turned the pundits and political analysis in its head and it’s driving them crazy!


      • Apologies to Mr. Garrison and Mr. Johnson. Unfortunately, I have been trafficking in sites where everyone has their claws out from the start and no one listens to each other and have not been on sites where discussions have been very civil. You have reminded me that I should seek out those places instead and not become engaged in that sort of thing. As I read my post it isn’t very attractive. I appreciate your reply Mr. Garrison and, Mr. Johnson, even your rebuke, which I deserved, was civil as well. I thank you both for leading me to a better path and reminding me there is one.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you for the apology Mr. Pal. Yeah we all know about those kinds of sites were dialog is not welcome or encouraged. We here at TSS always encourage dialog and respectful engagement. We try our best to keep away the trolls and their insults and outright adhomin attacks. We appericate your comments and readership. Don’t hesitate to let us know how you feel as long as it is civil.


      • I appreciate the sincerity of your reply, Mr. Pal. We would be delighted to have a civil and spirited discussion with you. As you well know, online discussions often begin wth “claws out” as you say. It’s as though there are a different set of cultural norms online. However, that’s not the environment we are building here at TSS. We appreciate feedback and discourse from our readers. With that said, feel free to pound on Robert’s article William F. Buckley, Jr. style, or Noam Chomsky style, or whichever intellectual you prefer.

        Liked by 1 person

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