Hillary Clinton, attempting to lower the expectations for her performance ahead of the first presidential debate this month, said Tuesday she anticipates a “difficult, challenging debate” with Donald Trump.
Clinton took questions from reporters aboard her campaign plane on Tuesday. Asked about the upcoming debates, she said: “I am preparing. I’m doing my homework. Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed great debater who won every one of the Republican debates. So I take nothing for granted.”
Added Clinton: “I think this will be a difficult, challenging debate, which is why I’m going to be thinking hard about what I need to present to the American people.”
The first general election debate is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York. It’s not unusual for a candidate to downplay their debating abilities — while raising the bar for their opponent — ahead of the televised showdowns.
The Clinton campaign has been pushing this line over the last couple weeks.
“For all his lack of substance, Trump’s showmanship, as ex-TV star, makes him a formidable debate foe. He thrashed his rivals in GOP debates,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon recently wrote on Twitter.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, journalist Mark Halperin said of the Clinton campaign: “High on the list of worries in Brooklyn is the expectations about the first debate. They are really concerned that if Trump just shows up, he’ll be declared the winner.”
Speaking of Trump, political commentator Nicolle Wallace said on Morning Joe: “If he looks anything less than deranged, he far exceeds expectations.”
She added: “If he speaks softly and reads the phone book he could be declared the winner.
“So their positioning for the first debate is disastrous,” Wallace said of the Clinton campaign.
Speaking about the upcoming debate, Clinton said of Trump: “I think there is so much in his political and public life that deserves to be examined. I am going to concentrate on what will affect the American people were he ever to get anywhere near the White House. Because as I’ve said repeatedly, he is unqualified to be president and temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief. I think this is a huge challenge that his candidacy poses for our country and the choice couldn’t be starker.”