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Hillary in Pittsburgh and about those Debates


John Fetterman upstaged by daughter Gracie on Saturday at the Stronger Together rally in Pittsburgh

Hillary came to Pittsburgh on Saturday with Tim Kaine on their Stronger Together bus tour. So I went.

Note to those of you who get invited to future such events: If they say the doors open at 2:15pm, make sure to get in line at 11am. The line stretched from the convention center, down the block, and wrapped around the block. I stood in line for 2 hours before I got in the door. Then, I didn’t get a seat. It was standing room only. We were one of the last groups to get in. There were 2000 people who didn’t.

The Trump supporters were limited to a few cars full of “Women for Trump” and about 20 protestors holding signs annnnnnd that’s about it. Not a whole lot of STrumpets in Pittsburgh and the line for the Clinton rally dwarfed the one I saw for Trump a couple of months ago.

It took another two hours for the bus to arrive. Those of us who had been on our feet all that time sat down and played heads up or found outlets to charge our phones and tablets. But no one lost their temper. It was a pretty family friendly atmosphere.

In the leadup, we heard from locals like Mark Cuban and Mike Doyle. But the biggest applause was saved for John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, PA who ran for Senate. He was a Bernie supporter and truly a change agent. The dude is like 6’9″, wears, well, apparently whatever fits, and still managed to get about 20% of the primary vote. How did that happen?! It was an amazing feat for a guy who otherwise didn’t seem to have a chance. So, he was Mr. Popularity before the bus arrived. His little girl Grace stole the show holding up a sign and leading the chant, “Hill-a-ry, Hill-a-ry!”. Perfect timing. She upstaged her dad, which is pretty hard to do.

Hillary and Kaine arrived about 40 minutes later. The crowd went wild. Kaine did his Trump impression again.It was just as bad, in a charming, attention getting way. I really like him. And then Hillary took over, dressed in red and completely at ease. That was the most surprising part of the whole evening. She didn’t sound scripted, her voice didn’t have that harsh, staccato cadence. She was more relaxed, confident, spontaneous. Maybe all she needed was to get the nomination.

She talked about her first 100 days. It’s going to focus on infrastructure. And she made particular mention of improving broadband and expanding it to rural areas. She also said that she wasn’t going to govern exclusively from the Oval Office. She’s going to be on the move during her presidency. Now, I think I understand why she picked Kaine. She needs a strong, competent presence in DC while she has a strong competent presence on the road. This is going to be a different kind of presidency. If you want change, you’re going to get it.

One thing really stood out: she barely mentioned Donald Trump and I can’t recall that she ever specifically said his name. There were only a couple of references to him. Very interesting.

You know who else she barely mentioned? Obama. Sorry about that, Heather. Pittsburgh bleeds Democrat, we’re definitely and proudly a diverse city and yet hardly a peep about Obama. Maybe she wants to distinguish herself as a change agent. Of course, she wouldn’t have to make quite such a distinction if he was as wildly, maniacally popular as some Democrats think. Something to think about.

Then it was over about an hour after it began. I beat a hasty retreat. The venue was claustrophobic, warm and we all should have used a lot more deodorant.

But definitely worth the wait if you get an invitation from your local Democratic party.


Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo shares my views about the debates. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably predict what Trump is going to do next in any scenario. The Washington Post definitely has Trump’s number. It looks like the NYTimes is getting a clue too. They will find the next 99 days extremely entertaining. {{smirk}}

But back to the debates. Trump has two choices: 1.) Try to get out of them. He’s already trying to do this. or 2.) have his supporters disrupt Clinton whenever she speaks. He could do this personally as well but I’m guessing he’ll just bring in some rowdy dudes who will behave extraordinarily badly.

Josh writes along these lines in How and Why Trump will Try to Ditch the Debates:

The requirement is simple: get out of the debates, make them not happen without seeming to be the one who’s running away or tanking them. Here’s how. I suspect Trump will start claiming that that the process is “rigged” because Gary Johnson and Jill Stein aren’t included. For better or worse (I think better), the debate commission rules are crystal clear: You need to hit 15% support in a certain number of major polls to be included. It’s highly unlikely Johnson will meet that threshold; it’s almost impossible that Stein will. Inclusion over exclusion has an inherent logic to it even if it’s obviously self-serving and not appropriate in this case. So I think Trump will find this a comfortable position from which to attack the debates themselves.

Trump does better in multi-person debates than one-on-ones. They’re much less debates in any real sense. They’re more like parallel taunt contests. The multi-person format also makes it easier to avoid policy detail. What’s more, Stein would certainly work with Trump in tag-teaming Hillary Clinton, putting her under fire from both the left and right. Johnson’s role is more uncertain. He less of an attack dog by temperament. And who he’d have more interest in attacking is less clear than it might seem. I’m sure Clinton would weather such a debate. But it’s clearly a less attractive option for her that a one on one with Trump.

What’s more, agreeing to such a debate in contravention of the debate commission rules and at Trump’s demand would show her giving into to Trump’s bullying, which would be extremely damaging quite apart from whether two person or four person debates are better in the abstract.

There is no possible way in Hell that Trump could win a substantive debate against Clinton. She is so good and chewed Obama up so badly in PA in 2008 that he had to slink off to North Carolina the next day to bluster and strut and nurse his wounds with his “dirt off my shoulder” routine. Yeah, Trump doesn’t stand a chance. She will make mincemeat of him. It will be yumiliating. He can’t have that. So, don’t expect to see him going mano-a-mano with his tiny little hands against Hillary without a lot of kicking and screaming.

It’s the last thing in the world he wants to do.



12 Responses

  1. Interesting about both candidates vying Pittsburg. Trump seems to think NY and Ct are battleground states! NYT actually had a decent Manafort expose today after days of writing :Nothing to see here” re: Russia’s influence. The worm is turning – just wait what CAIR will unleash – they are masters at this.

  2. I’m beginning to sympathize with Ted Cruz. Never thought I would say that. More Republicans should have the courage to be unpopular.
    It’s a responsibility.

    • This is for the GOP France WWII. After Trump – Vichy vs Resistance. Till the end of days. Unfortunately, this may revive the Bushes too (who will secretly vote for her, I am convinced).

  3. Thanks for the on the ground report- your sacrifice of time and energy seemed worth it.

  4. As for option (2), has this happened before? I watched some of the RP debates, but couldn’t stomach that much of them. Did he get supporters to jeer, interrupt, etc.? Has any other candidate done that in past years?

    Maybe there’s an option (3), too, which would be to so demean and devalue the debates ahead of time so that his supporters consider them evidence of how unstable and unfairly attacking of him Hillary and the ‘debate establishment’ are. That way, he could just roll his eyes through the debate with a few ‘there it is again!’s, and his supporters probably wouldn’t care that he didn’t answer the question, or answered a different question. They are pretty close together in Sept. and Oct., also, which will mount the pressure on him with each fail. She will win them all, and he won’t gain new supporters that way. 🙂

    This, today, on MSNBC: “Remember, while many Americans have come to expect these showdowns as a normal part of every election, Trump doesn’t have to participate. In the 1964, 1968, and 1972 election cycles, there were no debates at all. In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush acted as if he really wanted to get out of the debates, but Bill Clinton’s campaign hired a guy to dress up in a chicken suit to mock the incumbent at public events, and Bush eventually relented.” Cheers for the chicken!

    I hadn’t heard she’d be ‘on the move’ during her Presidency before. That’s exciting! Did she mean road trips? Town halls? Having just watched West Wing, season 2, ep 1 for the first time ever last night (15 yrs ago, and it could be today), I hope she stays safe.

    • Bill needs to remind Hill of that chicken trick, if Tribble Hair ducks the debates. 😈

  5. I saw/heard Hillary speak in 1992 and was less than 50 feet from her. She was stumping for Bill and spoke in the most scenic, iconic place in my area and stayed close by. I walked 5 minutes from home to see her. It was the first time my sig. other and I were aware of her and were blown away by her brilliance. I have followed her ever since. Typically, she is the smartest person in the room and on the stage. And, what a great extemporaneous speaker. I have not been disappointed once by her (questioned sometimes, but no one is perfect). I found her to be personable, warm and memorable. By the way, I have my Hillary bumpersticker taped to my window facing the street, with a Nixon and Kennedy sticker below.

  6. Thanks for the info and I have to say, I’m a bit jealous – woulda loved to have been there. First 100 days on infrastructure – fantastic! A president on the move – also a VERY good idea, especially for those of us who feel disconnected from what happens inside the beltway. It’s been used by national leaders in the distant past to great effect.

    The Donald quit? Please no, it’s looking so promising for us.

  7. There is no possible way in Hell that Trump could win a substantive debate against Clinton. She is so good and chewed Obama up so badly in PA in 2008 that he had to slink off to North Carolina the next day to bluster and strut and nurse his wounds with his “dirt off my shoulder” routine.

    And yet Obama got the nomination. That he got it through bullying, intimidation, and abusing the process is not significant. It is only significant that he won.

    In a perfect world, voters would carefully examine the policies, proposals, and backgrounds of candidates and make thoughtful, rational choices between them. In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t live in that world. There are many voters who mistake bluster and arrogance for “strength” and who don’t have the patience to follow a detailed policy debate. Political discourse in this country pretty much consists of quips and one-liners these days (of 140 characters or less, of course, thanks to Twitter). It’s a system that rewards snark and grandiose, unsubstantiated claims over well thought-out programs.
    And, unfortunately, it’s a system that rewards BS artists. It rewarded Obama in 2008 and 2012. It might very well reward Trump (a man who has built his entire life on BS) in 2016.

    I’ll admit to not being as impressed with the 2016 version of HRC as I was with the 2008 (or indeed 1992) version. I think she’s been forced to make too many compromises (many as a result of her involvement with the current misadministration). I think she’s been excessively cautious and terribly vague about actual policy. I hope she hits her stride in the general.

    I think it’s far too early to declare victory inevitable. Trump’s wildly improbable campaign has been declared DOA several times already this cycle, yet it still continues.

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