In response to O.K.
Jim, I agree with you entirely. Trump can get the best advice in the world and deploy the most loyal and effective spinners, but it doesn’t matter if he can’t or won’t execute. A couple of more thoughts:
- I’m a little bullish on Trump for this debate, but I was a little bullish on him for the first debate as well, and we know how that turned out. I think interacting with people is a better format for him even if it isn’t a large crowd, and his drop in the polls and the praise for Pence may convince him he has to do a better job controlling himself. Also, it’s just harder to interrupt constantly in a town-hall format.
- The problem, of course, is that his knowledge base is very thin and it’s difficult to disguise that for 90 minutes. The Pence tactic of shrugging off attacks will be much harder for him to pull off. Not just because he has no history of ever letting anything go, but because if he tries to do it, the charge that he is refusing to defend himself — which I’m sure Hillary will use — will be tougher to get around, since he’s the principal and not the understudy.
- It’s important to remember that the key target audience here is not conservatives. As I’ve noted before, the debate over whether some conservative opinion-makers are or aren’t supporting Trump is pretty much besides the point electorally. Trump’s first debate performance hurt him with independents, moderates, and women and that’s where he needs to make up ground.