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Four Trumps, One Debate: Which Donald Shows Up At Debate #1?

NTK dives into Trump’s prior debate performances – and his recent campaigning – ahead of Monday night’s big debate, to see which Donald Trump will show up.

Trump at debates

As with most of this election, much of the attention ahead of Monday night’s debate focuses on what to expect from Donald Trump.

NTK previews the four Trumps that could show up – any one, or a combination of the four – in the showdown at Hofstra:

1) POLISHED POL

Could a polished, poised Trump show up at the debate tonight? The Clinton team seems to think so, prebutting tonight’s debate with the claim that Trump is now a “creation” of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

Trump was similarly subdued in a press conference with Mexican President Nieto after their meeting, but we could see something like Trump’s opening statement at the very first debate: on-message, but calm and collected.

2) DEFIANT DON

At one point or another, Trump will be confronted with some of the controversial statements he has made in this campaign. When Trump was backed into a corner in GOP debates, he showed a tendency to fight it out:

See also: Trump on the size of hands, on Jeb Bush being a “tough guy,” and on the Obama “birther” controversy just last month.

Trump could bring his combative style to both Clinton and moderator Lester Holt tonight.

3) CONSPIRACY CONSERVATIVE

Trump made waves over the weekend by inviting Bill Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers to the debate. Trump could bring up Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, or any number of real and alleged scandals the Clintons are tied to.

In the GOP debates, Trump dealt freely in conspiracy theories – including the highly-refuted vaccines/autism theory:

See also: Trump claiming Ted Cruz may not be eligible for the presidency, and Trump suggesting George W. Bush was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

4) TIMID TRUMP

USA Today reminds readers that Trump had a good feel for “ball control” after 11 GOP debates, both the ability to hang back as his primary opponents fought it out and draw out his answers with filler phrases and tangents.

We’re less likely to see this Trump tonight because he’s one of two people on the stage, and Clinton could repeatedly try to bait him into mistakes. Don’t be surprised, though, if Clinton ends up talking more than Trump.