A battle for eyeballs: Football or Town Hall? (Washington Diary)
Washington, Oct 8 (IANS) Football or Town Hall? Tube addicts are torn over watching America’s most popular sport or another bout between “Crooked Hillary” and “Dodgy Donald,” the two most unpopular presidential contenders in history.
Would the second presidential debate Sunday night between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump be as compelling as their first encounter that commanded a record 84 million eyeballs across 13 channels?
Or would the couch potatoes be better off sticking with the National Football League game between Green Bay Packers and New York Giants with their huge bowls of popcorn?
And would the brash billionaire slipping in opinion polls after his first encounter with Hillary be more combative as he has promised or adopt a softer tone as his minders have advised?
Also would Clinton the smug former diplomat be less lawyerly in a Town Hall setting where voters get to ask half the questions chosen by Gallup?
Pundits have also counselled Trump to take a lesson from his cool and collected running mate Mike Pence, who got the better of his constantly interrupting Democratic adversary Tim Kaine in their sole debate.
But the Manhattan mogul did not seem to have taken the hint as he doubled down on his feud with former Miss Universe turned Hillary Clinton supporter Alicia Machado, whom he had once shamed in public as an “eating machine” only to “save her job”.
The thrice married reality TV star also raked up former president Bill Clinton’s infidelities to wade into yet another controversy.
“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself. I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth,” he said at a rally in Philadelphia.
“And really, folks, really, why should she be? Right? Why should she be,” asked Trump only to have the talking heads upbraid him for accusing Hillary of being “unfaithful” without any evidence or reasoning.
In turn, Hillary quickly seized on a “bombshell” New York Times report suggesting that Trump might have legally avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 long years by declaring a $916 million loss in 1995.
But without a hint of embarrassment at “not doing his civic duty” Trump surrogates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie among them, called him a “genius”.
The real estate mogul himself boasted how with his “brilliant” business acumen he had risen from the ashes even if it made honest middle class taxpayers look “stupid”.
Conspiracy theorists suggested that Trump’s first wife Marla Maples may have leaked his 1995 tax return. Others thought it was daughter Ivanka or even the billionaire himself.
Trump was also quick to grab a Bill Clinton gaffe declaring President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law “the craziest thing in the world” as he revelled in the thought of Bill in the dog house.
“Can you imagine when he walked home to that beautiful home in Westchester, and he said, “‘Hi Hillary, how was your day?’ Oh, did he suffer,” Trump mused at a rally.
Meanwhile, as Hillary Clinton disappeared from the campaign trail to prepare for their second face-off, Trump kept up the heat with a dry run at a Town Hall of his own.
If a businessman had deleted 33,000 emails that the US Congress had subpoenaed, she would have been in “the hoosegow,” he said using slang for a jail, derived from the Spanish “juzgado” meaning courtroom.
Trump also blasted Clinton for her foreign policy judgement and suggested she isn’t in debate-prep mode — she’s “resting”.
Then as deadly Hurricane Matthew approached, Clinton ran into rough weather as her campaign launched a $63,000 five-day ad blitz on The Weather Channel in Florida.
Trump’s former presidential rival “low energy” Jeb Bush criticised Clinton’s ad buy with his former spokesperson calling it “a colossally huge and unforced error”.
“Insensitive and will piss off Floridians,” she tweeted as Trump campaign branded it “tone-deaf” and “shameless”.
The Hillary campaign quickly beat a retreat asking The Weather Channel to delay airing its campaign ads “until after the storm passes”.
But whether one opts for football or Town Hall, the “Pizza Party” has them all covered. It has won “political designation” from Massachusetts election officials after enrolling 184 registered voters.
But with no Pizza Party presidential candidate on the ballot, its founder himself plans to vote for Trump!
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)