Why Trump can't just replicate his 2016 debate strategy

Tim O'Donnell

Politico's Ryan Lizza rewatched President Trump's 2015 and 2016 primary and presidential debate performances ahead of Tuesday night's opening presidential debate between Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, and came to the realization that Trump is pretty good on the stage. Brash at times, sure, but Lizza believes the president actually had a strategy when he was up there, unlike his free-wheeling ways on Twitter. That said, Trump will likely have to shake things up this time.

Phillippe Reines, who served as the Trump stand-in during Hillary Clinton's debate prep in 2016, said that back then Clinton struggled to counter the novelty of Trump's candidacy, adding that no one, whether that be Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or Biden, could have fared better on stage against Trump. Too many Americans were willing to give his non-conventional methods a chance, Lizza writes. "What’s scary is that I'm dressed like him and I have the Trump mannerisms, but I'm not crazy," Reines said. "I'm still Philippe Reines. And when you hear me saying what he says, you see the power of it. Even without any of the crazy stuff."

Now, though, voters have watched Trump in action for nearly four years, and his job approval rating isn't pretty, which means he'll have to adapt and defend his actual governing record. Lizza writes that his ability to do so "shouldn't be underestimated," but Reines also said Biden shouldn't "overthink" his strategy and declare that "most of what you hear from [Trump] tonight will be false." Read more at Politico.

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