Here Are All the Sneaky Tricks Candidates Use to Dodge Debate Questions

How many can you spot tonight?


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will finally face-off in their first presidential debate tonight, in an event that’s expected to draw a record-breaking 100 million viewers. Presidential debates, unlike those held during the primaries, are supposed to be, well, more presidential: there are specific rules governing how long candidates are supposed to speak and topics are set in advance.

Tonight, we know that the candidates will be discussing the economy, national security and foreign policy, and more generally, “America’s direction.” But we also know that it’s not just about where candidates stand on the issues, it’s how they tackle these topics on air—and interact—that we’ll be watching. It’s likely they’ll dodge difficult questions, hurl insults, and in some cases, change the subject entirely.

This video from We The Voters dissects some of these tried-and-true debate tactics. Starring Josh Malina of The West Wing (and, more recently Scandal) and Richard Kind of Gotham, the parody breaks down why candidates like bringing up anecdotes (because you can’t verify them), falling back on name calling, and redefining words (so they can subtly change the subject and assign blame to something else). See if you can catch some of them tonight.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing more from We The Voters, a new digital, nonpartisan campaign to inform voters of key issues this election season. We The Voters has assembled a star-studded crew, including director Morgan Spurlock and actors and actresses such as Rosario Dawson, Tom Arnold, and Mario Cantone, to produce videos that break down the 2016 campaign in an approachable, entertaining way, so voters can get to the polls knowing exactly what’s at stake. They’ll be releasing 20 videos over several weeks. Stay tuned.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate