The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here- a presidential debate that will not leave all of us terrified for the future of our country. That’s right, the first Democratic presidential debate will take place this Tuesday, October 13th, airing on CNN beginning at 8:30PM.
This debate is a crucial event for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton as it presents her with the opportunity to sell herself and her ideas to the American public while facing her opponents head-on for the first time. While we have no doubt that Hillary will shine, there are a few key points of emphasis that, if she carries out successfully, will guarantee that she emerges as the winner of the debate.
Channel her inner Val.
We absolutely adored Hillary’s role as Val on Saturday Night Live. She came across as personable, humble, and funny. This is exactly what she needs to do in the debate. Hillary’s greatest criticism has been her image- that she is cold, unapproachable, and calculated. The SNL skit disproved these criticisms and humanized her by presenting her as vulnerable. She was able to laugh along and make fun of herself while also emphasizing key positions like her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and support for gay rights. If Hillary can accomplish the same thing Tuesday night- present and support her ideas while also being personable- she will win over a lot of skeptical voters.
Distance herself from her opponents...
The fact of the matter is that the five candidates on stage do not differ drastically on their positions on key issues. The task at hand for Hillary is to highlight how they differ on their plans to carry out solutions and then prove that her methods are wiser.
For example, Clinton and Sanders both agree that college has to be made more affordable. While Sanders plans to make public universities tuition-free, Hillary plans to increase federal and state grants, decrease interest free loan rates, and hold colleges accountable for adhering to these rules. Hillary needs to point out these differences and argue that her plan is much more feasible economically and politically, as it will not cost as much as Sanders’ plan and will not be as difficult to get passed through the Republican-controlled Congress.
Similarly, Clinton and Sanders both agree that health care needs to be affordable and accessible. While Sanders advocates for a single-payer health care system, Hillary advocates for defending and expanding the Affordable Care Act, lowering out of pocket costs and making prescriptions more affordable. As with their plans for college affordability, Hillary needs to point out these differences and the fact that her position makes more sense economically and politically.
How about issues on which Hillary is to the left of Sanders? Hillary has pledged to decrease gun violence by imposing universal background checks, cracking down on illegal gun traffickers, and making sure criminals don’t get their hands on guns. Sanders has yet to outline a comprehensive platform on gun control, but his past voting record reflects that he is not a large proponent of it as he has repeatedly voted against background checks and waiting periods. Again, these are key differences which Hillary needs to point out and take advantage of.
…But without attacking them.
It’s important to remember that whoever wins the nomination (which of course, we’re expecting to be Hillary) will need to rely on receiving the votes of his/her opponents’ support bases. This is why while Hillary is pointing out the differences in their positions, she needs to do so in a way that does not come across as an attack. She simply needs to state the facts from each side of the argument and explain why her ideas are the better option. Even if the opposition seems to be unfairly attacking her, she should not go negative and risk turning off potential voters.
Emphasize her experience.
Marco Rubio said it best himself in the first Republican debate when he said, “If this election is a resume contest, then Hillary Clinton will be the next president.” If the goal of a presidential election is to hire someone to lead the country for the next four years, why wouldn’t you look for the person with the most and best quality experience for the job? Isn’t that what any good hiring manager would do?
Hillary should make very clear in the debate that she is the candidate with the best experience to carry out the duties of the presidency. Her time as Secretary of State, Senator of New York, First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, a lawyer, the co-founder of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, creator of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, leader to the U.S. delegation to Beijing, and a mother and a grandmother have given her the tools, taught her the lessons, and introduced her to the people necessary to be a successful president. Because of her experience, she is the one who will be able to most effectively carry out the policy goals she has outlined.
There is no doubt in our minds that Hillary deserves our vote to become the next President of the United States. On Tuesday, she will do everything in her power to prove to you that she deserves your vote as well. If she shows her true self, distances herself from her opponents, keeps it positive, and emphasizes her experience, we are confident she will come away victorious. Her passion for public service and her love for her country will shine through.
Be sure to tune into the debate on CNN this Tuesday beginning at 8:30PM. Watch along with us as we live tweet the event by following us on Twitter @PennForHillary.