Ahead of tonight’s presidential debate, you’ll hear TV pundits argue about policies and platforms but let's be real — this last matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be a fight of character once again, and we shouldn’t be hoping for more.
Being President of the United States means more than understanding foreign policy or economic issues; it is about standing strong in the face of criticism and the ability to push forward even when the opposition is pulling you back.
Over the last year, both candidates have gone the extra mile to prove and, in many cases, defend their leadership traits to the people. Clinton’s surrogates argue that she’s more “presidential” than Trump because of her ability to keep her composure during a heated debate; Trump supporters point to his aggressiveness and direct way of speaking as signs of a good leader. Very rarely do we compare the candidates’ specific policy proposals on health care or the economy.
And why should that be a bad thing? It takes good character to dictate good policy. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made the point last night on CNN that policy and character are really one in the same. To understand a candidate’s actions we first have to understand how they think. Clamoring for more policy talk at the third and last debate won’t achieve that goal.
We’ve heard Donald Trump’s critics challenge his attitude toward the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault and Hillary Clinton’s opposers argue that her deceptive behavior makes her unfit to be president. At tonight’s debate there will be more recent revelations to consider. I’ll want to see Clinton’s reaction to Trump’s rants, both on Twitter and at rallies, of a rigged election. I’ll also want to see Trump’s response to Clinton’s conduct as revealed in the thousands of pages of emails that were leaked from campaign chair John Podesta’s account. Policy will have to take a sideline and voters should be okay with that.
In any case with less than a month to go before Election Day, most voters have already made up their mind about the right direction for this country. It’s the undecided voters that Clinton and Trump will have to woo at tonight’s debate. The make or break won’t depend on a change in position on tax credits. It’ll depend on the more subtle shift in behavior from either candidate that will grab our attention for days to come.
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