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.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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