Commander-in-Chief Forum offers taste of debates to come

SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the current state of the presidential race.

DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the current state of the presidential race. A full list of available faculty and their areas of expertise is available here.




On Matt Lauer’s performance as moderator at the Commander-in-Chief Forum…

  • “I can’t believe Matt Lauer could handle the two candidates so differently. He just seemed ill-prepared. Every political reporter alive had to have known Trump would falsely try to claim he didn’t support the war in Iraq and didn’t support the overthrow of Qaddafi, when he’s on the record supporting both of those things. What’s so galling is Lauer was so aggressive with Clinton about the email thing, pushing back on her claims. Why didn’t he push back on Trump?”

On who won the Commander-in-Chief Forum…

  • “Probably Donald Trump, but that goes back to the moderator problem. Lauer let Trump skate. Trump didn’t have to sit on the hot seat in the same way Clinton did, and when you’re not called to the carpet in the same way you don’t run the risk of nearly losing your temper as Clinton nearly did.”

On Clinton’s performance at the Commander-in-Chief Forum…

  • “She clearly had command of the issues and of what she wanted to say. She started out on the email thing doing what people have told her to do – which is saying it was a mistake and that she wouldn’t do it again. At the end, she made a couple of promises that she might not have wanted to make, like meeting with the Veterans Administration once a week and promising not to put troops in Iraq or Syria. She’s going to have to really work at not getting worked up about these email questions, though. If I were doing debate prep with her, I would work at not getting upset, because if I was the Trump team, I would keep coming at her over and over again in the debates and seeing how mad she gets.”

On Trump’s performance at the Commander-in-Chief Forum...

  • “He just continues to get away with not answering questions, and as long as he can keep doing that, it works for him. He just speaks at a really loud level and blusters and harnesses the sense that market success is better than policy chops, and that the world will cower in the face of his deal-making prowess. People have really liked that image – the image of a winner. What Trump did wrong, though, is he needs to think of something negative to say about Vladimir Putin. Stop being his best friend.”

Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts. She can discuss:

  • economic messages in political campaigns
  • presidential campaign strategy
  • religious voters and evangelical social movements





On who won the Commander-in-Chief Forum…

  • “Neither candidate scored any sort of knockout punch against the other. The event tended to underscore the equal matching of the two candidates.This tended to elevate Trump’s experience deficit by having him answer questions from veterans about military and foreign policy in a live situation. Trump also got important advantages from winning the coin toss that allowed him to go second. This helped him form specific responses to allegations Clinton made about Iraq and other foreign policy concerns.”
  • “I do think that Matt Lauer was a weak moderator and not disciplined toward creating reciprocal responses between the two candidates so voters can compare.That was clearly the idea, originally, but it was not carried out very well.”
  • “Hillary Clinton seemed well composed and prepared to answer. She did not appear stumped or intimidated by audience members who disagreed with her. Trump continued to defend aggressive claims that make him distinctive, such as the idea that he knows more than the generals when it comes to ISIS. The race continues to be shaped by a narrative of Hillary being ‘Obama-plus,’ while Trump seeks to be perceived as a strong rejection of the status quo.”

Voth is SMU’s director of debate and an associate professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. He can discuss:

  • debate prep
  • debate strategy
  • comparisons between this debate season and the 2012 election’s debate season


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SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews.To book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News and Communications at 214-768-7650.

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