If lucky, each candidate might get a total of maybe 10 minutes on camera, not much to describe their biography, positions on select hot-button topics, offer rebuttals and, since this is TV, likely offer a memorable zinger to stand out from the crowd.
Each will have an individual strategy. Frontrunner Joe Biden, for instance, must stay verbally disciplined and look presidential. He’s been doing this stuff for seven years longer than Pete Buttigieg has been alive.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is an old pro too, literally. The one-time mayor turns 78 this fall. He’s trailed Biden badly in polls and sees Sen. Elizabeth Warren closing in quickly. Sanders will stand next to Biden the second night and is the most likely to go after the ex-vice president, perhaps over Biden’s recent abortion flip.
Others may snip at each other or draw stark contrasts, but history suggests such early TV opportunities are best used to make your own introductory points — and mention your website at least once. A good impression can help immensely with fundraising in these crucial closing days of the second quarter.
These debates are quite tense and tiring affairs, as they should be testing wannabe commanders-in-chief. All will have prepared, rehearsed with staff throwing unexpected questions and insults, memorized a few key lines to utter as if they just came to mind.
He’s too kind.