As the second presidential debate nears the candidates are undoubtedly plotting their attacks based on the latest developments: The VP debate, revelations of Trump's $916 million business losses and possible tax avoidance, new GOPers disavowing Trump, and the claims of a new batch of Clinton hacks.
Although Hillary Clinton enjoyed an uptick in poll numbers after the first presidential debate (CNN poll of polls has her leading 44 to 42 percent), she has at least one new hill to climb: She will have to overcome the overbearing impression her running-mate Sen. Tim Kaine made on Oct. 3 while sparring with the rather collected Gov. Mike Pence.
"Pence had a softer and more confident approach," Georgetown University political scientist Stephen Wayne said. "Kaine was hyped and over-prepared for the debate. Pence did better, but the overall effect will be negligible."
The second presidential debate is town-hall style, where audience members pose questions to the candidates who are free to roam around and add their personal touch—a format with which Clinton has a lot of experience. Trump's best venues have proven to be large, loud rallies. Other questions will be selected by debate moderators Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper of CNN from online submissions, and are expected to focus largely on background checks for gun purchases and social security benefits, according to Bloomberg. This debate is the candidates' best opportunity to demonstrate how they relate to real Americans, and hopefully connect with voters on a personal level.
Trump has a great asset in the polish and experience of Pence, who was crowned the winner with an overwhelming majority of poll-takers. Yet Pence’s ideal performance at the VP debate could very well draw a stronger contrast with Trump’s combustible disposition, and set the bar higher for Trump in the upcoming debate.
“Pence was the anti-Trump,” a Nevada Republican told Politico. “He was prepared, smart, composed and he showed respectful competence and leadership.”
Pence might be a ticket-balancer, but he can't repaint the campaign. With only a month to go before the general election, there is not much more Trump can do to undo his earlier moves that are still reaping disdain.
On Thursday, 30 congressional Republicans signed a letter stating they simply could not vote for Trump, along with searing reproach.
“In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican Party has asked the people…to entrust their future to a man who insults women, mocks the handicapped, urges that dissent be met with violence, seeks to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, and applies a de facto ethnicity test to judges,” the letter read.
“He offends our allies and praises dictators. His public statements are peppered with lies…”
In terms of Clinton’s obstacles, reports have surfaced about a new stream of hacked emails that threaten to expose Clinton Foundation secrets with allegations of “pay to play” deal-making and include files purporting to prove it.
Remarks from the self-proclaimed hacker, the notorious Gufficer 2.0 (said by some to have Russian ties) seem to imply that security around the Clinton Foundation databases was weak.
“Hillary Clinton and her staff don’t even bother about the information security. It was just a matter of time to gain access to the Clinton Foundation server.”
The Clinton camp refuted the claim that the hacker stole files.
“We still have no evidence Clinton Foundations systems were breached and have not been notified by law enforcement of an issue,” a foundation official said.
“Given the Russians’ long track record of faking the origin and doctoring the content of documents acquired through cyberattacks, the committee is working to determine if these were stolen from our network," said Meredith Kelly, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee national press secretary.