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What Trump did well in debate

28 September 2016

While it’s pretty clear that Hilary Clinton won yesterday’s debate, there was one thing that Donald Trump did well and it’s an important consideration that no-one has mentioned.

Despite the many negatives, he did have one overriding message that must have got through to voters. That message was that politician had failed America over the last few years and the country needed someone from outside the establishment.

For example, at one point he asked why Clinton was only coming up with solutions now when she had been part of the political establishment for 30 years. At another point he asked why America was paying for most of NATO’s costs, a deal a business leader would never have made. He also said that while what Clinton was saying sounded good, it wouldn’t work in reality.

This focus on the need for America to be run like a business, something that career politicians knew nothing about, was clearly his main message. I believe this message got through.

Whether that message alone was enough to sway votes in a sea of negatives is yet to be seen.

 

What was his biggest negative?

The big one for me was his defensiveness. We’re used to seeing him on the attack, but Clinton forced him to defend himself on many occasions. For example, why wasn’t he releasing his tax return? Why does he now say he was against the Iraq war when he was once in favour? and why did he think Climate Change was a hoax organised by China?

By constantly having to defend himself, he was forced into the language of denial for huge periods of the debate. This is the last thing any electoral candidate wants, because it cast him in a bad light and prevented him from sharing more positive answers about what he would do to ‘make America great again.’

Regarding Clinton, she was impressive. She looked relaxed and clearly knew her material.

However, it’s hard to know whether that will sway voters. The fact that she is so polished is something that can also work against her. It makes her look like the perfect politician, and that turns some people off.

On the other hand, some people like the fact that Trump isn’t part of the Washington machine. That’s clearly the point he wanted to get across. Despite his many negatives, I believe he did succeed in doing that.

If you want to grow your media interview skills for that potential media scrutiny, download my White Paper, ‘5 Steps to Pain-Free Media Interviews" here.

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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