Alan Schroeder, author of “Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trail” and a professor at Northeastern University, tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM that going into the first debate, Trump would have the benefit of “low expectations.” Clinton has the advantage of having participated in one-on-one debates.
“Nobody is going to be expecting much and he has the benefit of being the challenger,” Schroeder says.
Another advantage: His unpredictability.
“It makes it very hard for Clinton and her team to prep her, to know what she is walking into,” Schroeder says. “Candidates hate that — they like to have a very clear sense of what is going to unfold.”
The first debate will be on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University, but Trump already has raised some hackles about the scheduling of that date because it’s on the same night as an NFL game. He suggested that the Clinton campaign wanted to go up against a time period that would draw fewer viewers, even though the Commission on Presidential Debates scheduled the events last September.
Schroeder says that “it doesn’t make sense” that Trump would raise potential objections to participation given he is “10 points back in the national polls.” Usually, the candidate with the most to lose, a clear frontrunner, or incumbent would be the most reticent. The last time that there were fewer than three presidential debates in a general election campaign was in 1996, when President Bill Clinton and challenger Bob Dole faced off just twice.
Also: Mark Samels, executive producer of “American Experience,” offers insight on the marathon of presidential documentaries being aired this week and next, starting with “JFK” and ending with “George H.W. Bush“ on Aug. 18. He talks about what the modern presidents have in common, and why the filmmakers didn’t seek the participation of the subjects themselves.
Anthony York of Zignal Labs talks about data from the two weeks of political conventions. Trump’s ability to dominate news coverage, which may have helped him during the primaries, may not work so well in the general election.
Alexander Heffner of “The Open Mind” on PBS and David Cohen of Variety discuss whether Trump can recast his image in the 90 days remaining before the general election.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs on Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.