Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are still hours away from squaring off in the first debate of the 2016 race, but the pre-debate spin between each campaign is already well underway. Here’s a glimpse at the expectations game waged by campaign surrogates who made the television rounds Monday morning.
Trump ‘can’t hide’ – Clinton running mate Tim Kaine at a rally Monday
“The thing about 90 minutes is boy, you can’t hide. Now Donald Trump likes to say, you know, ‘I’m going to build this wall, then I’m not taking any questions,’ but okay, when you’ve got 90 minutes and there’s just a moderator and two of you on stage, you can run but you can’t hide.”
Moderators on notice – Trump running mate Mike Pence on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show
“My confident hope in the debate tonight and our debate and the other two presidential debates (is that) the moderators will ask the questions and they’ll allow the candidates to answer the questions. And the rest of you people afterwards can do all the commentating and let the American people decide.”
Fact checker – Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon on CNN’s “New Day”
“There is enough lies that Donald Trump tells consistently that everyone should be able to call him out — (debate moderator) Lester Holt, Hillary Clinton will, too. But I think that even the observers and reporters tonight watching, that are grading the candidates’ performances should take it into account.”
He’ll ‘be himself’ – Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller on CNN’s “New Day”
“Mr. Trump is going to be very prepared for this evening, but the key point to make about Mr. Trump is that he’s going to go in there with the clarity and conviction of a candidate who knows exactly what his vision is, exactly how he wants to help the country. And so he’s going to go in there and essentially be himself. And that’s something that’s really easy to prepare for. Secretary Clinton has a much bigger challenge, she’s trying to program all of her lines and figure out what poll-tested methods are going to work tonight.”
Just the facts – Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show:
“All that we’re asking from Donald Trump is that he stick with the facts, that he give clear plans and that he have a command of the issues. That’s how we think the candidates should be judged.
“That’s how they’ve been judged in the past. What we don’t want to have is some kind of double standard where Donald Trump can get the most improved award but Hillary Clinton is getting judged on the fine points of policy.”
Lowering expectations – Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show
“Robby and I are living in parallel universes. Donald Trump has been criticized all weekend long. I think that the Clinton campaign has clearly been talking to the media for a week now saying it’s your job to make sure that Donald Trump is checked — fact-checked in real time. I’m just surprised the campaign manager would try to lower expectations that dramatically for his own candidate.
“Look, they know that campaign debates are not Hillary Clinton’s sweet spot. Yes, she is experienced at doing them but the experience hasn’t necessarily been beneficial. I’ve been asking voters formally, can you name anything from a debate that you’ve seen from Hillary Clinton that really moves you or that you remember and they can’t. She’s been in 34 of them.”
Watch the women – Clinton supporter Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, appearing on CNN’s “New Day”
“Remember, Donald Trump has never gone one-on-one in a debate with anyone, much less a woman. So I think there’s huge risk if he goes after her in that fashion that a lot of in particular women will say, ‘holy smokes that’s out of bounds.'”
Trump is unpredictable – Trump supporter Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, appearing on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I’m confident he will adapt and say what he has to say or protect his style. Ted Cruz is different than Hillary Clinton and he sort of adapted his attacks to each opponent. I think you’ll see a line of argument and attack, if you will, that is different. Again, we have to wait and see because I don’t think anyone can predict what Donald Trump will do, but I think he will do very well.”