You didn’t think that Democrats would get away with having four hours of national broadcast airtime without President Trump trying to intervene and push the spotlight back in his direction, now, did you? The President hinted this week that may work to insert himself into the first Democratic debate next week by live-tweeting during the broadcast with the assumed intention of getting candidates on the debate stage to respond to his tweets.
The idea is that the network and moderators will end up monitoring his Twitter feed, then pick out some particular accusations against certain candidates and have them respond in real-time, via AOL News:
President Donald Trump has confirmed that he may live-tweet the upcoming Democratic debates for the 2020 election race.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, the president said he had not been considering it until he read about the idea from the Wall Street Journal and he’s not opposed to it.
According to Newsweek, by live-tweeting the debates, the president gets in on the action and will be able to respond to his opponents’ attacks in real-time.
Wall Street Journal White House Reporter Michael Bender said while some might compare this to a “chicken or the egg” scenario, it is just another “Trumpian twist.”
The moderators would have to play along for the President to have any impact on the live broadcast. It’s entirely possible that NBC/MSNBC have already decided a policy against reading any of President Trump’s tweets during the broadcast since it would be rather unfair to make the Democrats on stage debate someone not even in the room. On the other hand, some of them may welcome it since it would allow them a chance to contrast themselves with the President and then give them an excuse to bludgeon him without appearing as though they were the one who brought his name up.
Politico adds to this conversation by saying that no matter what happens next week, live-tweeting or not, Trump’s plan will be to make the Democratic debate as much about him as possible by working out a busy schedule of newsworthy events:
Ahead of the first two Democratic presidential primary debates next Wednesday and Thursday, the president and his political team are angling to dominate the news cycle with carefully released tidbits meant to keep the public hooked on the machinations of the commander in chief. This will range from the president sitting down for an extended interview with an anchor from Noticias Telemundo, who is also a moderator of the Democratic debates, to an announcement by the vice president next Tuesday in Miami — where the Democrats are holding their debates — that unveils a list of prominent Latino and Hispanic supporters. And on the night of the first debate, Trump himself might live-tweet the debates as he flies on Air Force One to Japan for the G-20.
Just as Trump has dictated so much of the political narrative over the last four years, the president’s team is hoping the two Democratic debates simply morph into liberal candidates reacting to the president instead of putting forward their own visions for the country, policy proposals or personal stories. The blunt reality, Trump’s allies say, is that a Trump tweet can quickly overtake most actions by any one Democratic presidential candidate — an exasperating scenario for Democrats.
That sounds about right for Donald Trump and the way he approached the 2016 campaign. If he’s coming up on a bad news day, drop a new squirrel in the backyard and let the media chase it around for a day. Are your Democratic opponents lining up for their first debate? Schedule some big bombshell news announcement for the day before and spend the time lobbing bombs at each candidate so they’re talking about Trump rather than their own policies.
The 2016 cycle was more muted in this sense because Republicans were also holding primary debates at the same time the Democrats were so Trump had his own GOP primary foes to argue with. This time, however, with no real GOP challenge in sight, Trump is free to focus all of his energy at becoming the twenty-first podium on the Democratic debate stage.
What can we watch for from the President during the first debate? Perhaps the unveiling of new nicknames for the Democratic candidates since that is literally part of the President’s 2020 strategic planning. I would also expect the President to feed the Democratic in-fighting as much as possible. He’ll spend time reminding candidates of what they may have said about each other over the years, or point out that Bernie Sanders just recently said that one of the reasons Elizabeth Warren is rising in the polls is because voters want to see a woman elected President.
Whatever happens, you can be sure that President Trump will be as active and noticeable as possible during the debates to draw the limelight and hamper efforts of his Democratic opponents to stay focused and stay on message during this crucial first primary debate.