Firehouse Partner Alex Conant Tells The New York Times President Trump Would Benefit From Another Debate

October 10, 2020

The president is opting for settings where there is virtually no risk he will encounter an uncomfortable question, but in doing so he is missing a chance to talk to a broader range of voters.

By Jeremy W. Peters and  Oct. 10, 2020

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“Trump should want 10 more debates right now,” Alex Conant, a Republican consultant who has overseen communications strategy on Senate and presidential campaigns, said in an interview.

With Mr. Trump trailing in almost every poll of battleground states, Mr. Conant said, the president’s demands that the debate be held on his terms “was very much an emotional response, instead of a strategic one.”

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Mr. Conant noted how successful Mr. Trump was in 2016 by effectively flooding broadcast, print and online news media with his attacks on Hillary Clinton, and in his use of that year’s debates to rebound from the disclosure that he had once boasted on “Access Hollywood” that he could grab women’s genitals with impunity.

“That proved to be an effective strategy for him, because he could go on any media outlet in the country and say Hillary Clinton is a crook,” Mr. Conant said. Now, “because he doesn’t have as consistent a message on Joe Biden or a record to defend, he has been unable to do that.”

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