Clinton Shouldn't Try to Minimize Viewers With Saturday Debates

She's good at debates, and any gaffes will blow up on the Internet anyway
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2015 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – These little-watched Saturday Democratic primary debates—apparently pushed for by Hillary Clinton's team—are actually hurting the frontrunner, Matthew Yglesias writes for Vox. And he says that's not just sour grapes from a political reporter whose weekend is now going to be spent with Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley. "By underestimating their own champion, the Democratic establishment has ended up doing Clinton a disservice," Yglesias writes. He says Clinton's desire for fewer debates makes sense, as it minimizes the opportunities she'll have to make policy commitments that would hurt her in the general election. But as long as they have to have a few debates, Clinton might as well make sure they're seen by as many people as possible. Because here's the thing: She's good at them.

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Yglesias points out Clinton regularly beat Obama when they were pitted against each other in debates, and she came off very well in the first Democratic debate—for anyone who bothered to watch it. And he says she has nothing to gain from a smaller audience. "All the downside risks of the debate are present no matter how few people are watching." Even if only five people watch the debate, Yglesias notes any mistakes Clinton makes will be replayed endlessly on cable news shows and the Internet anyway. "If she gaffes or decides to come out in favor of slavery reparations, the damage will be done even if nobody's watching. But if she delivers another display of consistent competence and command, few people will be around to appreciate it." Read the full piece here. (Read more Hillary Clinton stories.)

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