Post your debate thoughts and reactions here.
As I mentioned below, I will be recording the debates and watching them a bit late, but I will start with a prediction to get things started. Of course all the focus is going to be on Trump. I have seen a lot of people speculating (hoping really) that Trump will not do well because it isn’t really a format he has ever had an opportunity to shine at. They also think his lack of policy specifics may catch up with him. I am confident that he will do fine though, and he might even walk away the clear winner. He’ll do fine at least on the force of his strong personality, but he handles the press quite skillfully. He has a chance to do well because the short answer debate format is somewhat analogous to handling the press. There isn’t time for much policy specifics even if he wanted to give them.
I actually thought Trump’s announcement speech, which launched this phenomenon, was a bit rambling. It seemed somewhat seat of the pants and unrehearsed. This was partially because I had watched him give a very similar speech on Youtube prior to his announcement, and I thought it was tighter. But people overlooked the flaws because of the hysteria surrounding his breaches of PC protocol, and the fact that he was offering something unique. I have no doubt that he would be a fine speech giver with some coaching and practice, but my point is that the short answer debate format likely suits Trump because it isn’t that different than handling adversarial reporters, which he does well.
Also, with regard to his lack of specifics, Trump has written two campaign books, one in 2000 and one in 2011, both in anticipation of possible runs. (First as a potential Reform Party candidate in 2000 and later as a potential Republican in 2012.) Both books contained substantial policy specifics, so he has some policy details to call on assuming he has read his own book. (How much of each book he actually wrote is anyone’s guess, but presumably he at least made sure they didn’t misrepresent him. I say this not as a slam, but as a concession. How many candidates actually write their own books.)