Neil W. McCabe on First Presidential Debate: ‘There Was No Strategy’

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Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line.

During the first half of the third hour, McCabe gave his analysis on the presidential debate and was convinced that President Trump may have effectively played to a TV audience with his performance.

Leahy: With me in the studio is the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. And on the newsmaker line right now is our Washington correspondent for the Tennessee Star and the Star News Network, Neil W. McCabe. Good morning Neil.

McCabe: Michael, Crom. Very good to be with you this morning.

Leahy: So Neil, Crom and I were talking a little bit about last night’s food fight between Trump on the one hand and Chris Wallace and Joe Biden on the other hand. And the consensus is it may well have been the worst presidential debate in American history. What’s your take on it?  Did you suffer through it yourself?

McCabe: Well, yeah, I mean it was to me it was true rock’em, sock’em robots, Michael. Maybe you remember those that toy is a kid.

Leahy: I do.

McCabe: It’s like they just there was no strategy. You just kept punching the guy until his head pops off. (Leahy laughs) And what’s always interesting to me and infuriating is that with these debates the questions and whatever the anti-conservative narrative is in the media. That is the question that’s asked.

And you know, you see it, you know four years ago with the Republican candidates. You have 16 Republican candidates and they’re all being asked questions about like what do we do about school lunch when that’s nothing that the Republicans even talk about.

So it’s we saw the same thing last night where every argument against President Trump was a question asked by Chris Wallace. And none of the arguments against Biden were even mentioned. And so basically Trump has to sort of slip them in with these little side remarks.

And then, you know interruptions and he waits for somebody to take a breath when he’s able to mention it. But like he tried to talk about Hunter Biden. He tried to talk about Hunter Biden getting $3.5 million from Moscow.

The former first lady of Moscow. He tried to talk about different issues. But Mike Wallace just wouldn’t have it. I saw this. But I don’t know if it’s true but it seemed to be true is that somebody said that on Twitter last night that Trump was interrupted by Wallace 35 times. And Biden was interrupted by Wallace like zero times.

Leahy: That’s liberal fairness,

McCabe: But it’s like Wallace and Biden were both kind of saying, alright Mr. Trump. Let’s just calm down. This is supposed to be a discussion about why Biden is the next president.

Carmichael: Well, I agree with what you say, but I think Trump could have handled it much better. I think he could have easily said when because like for example that White supremacist question. Boy, I tell you what. As soon as Chris Wallace gave that question because it’s not a new question.

As soon as he gave that question Trump had such a great opportunity to do two things one is to point out the history of the KKK and its roots in the Democrat Party and that it was and still is the biggest White supremacy group and it supports Joe Biden. And the second one is to say if you want to find the White nationalist in this country today, Chris, you ought to turn on your television and look at the riots in Portland.

Because 75 percent of those people are White. And I’m really sad Chris that you are so uninformed. But I appreciate the question. But the real question needs to be directed to the guy that supports White supremacy and always has.

And let’s go back to 1991 when Joe Biden did what he did to Clarence Thomas which is an unforgivable act in the only reason he did it was because Clarence Thomas was a Black man and Joe Biden thought he could get away with it. That would have been the best answer.

McCabe: Or his best answer could have been you’ve misquoted me because I actually didn’t say that the White supremacists and the Neo-Nazis were nice guys. I said with the exception of the White supremacists and Neo-Nazis, I think there were some sincere people who were there to simply support keeping the statue.

And you know, you are unfairly maligning them as you’re unfairly maligning me. You know Trump actually didn’t even say what everybody says he said. And that’s infuriating. And then you talk about you know Obama you talk about what did you think about that question with Wallace?

Will you promise that you would have a repeal and replace and you never had repeal. You never offered a repeal and replace plan. And it’s like I remember a plan that was on the floor of the Senate that lost by one vote because John McCain. That was a repeal and replace plan. Like, how could you how could Chris Wallace say something like that?

Leahy: Let me follow up on Chris Wallace. His performance was so abysmal and has been panned by everyone. What’s the buzz up there in terms of does Chris Wallace keep his gig at Fox News? Does Chris Wallace continue in this, you know, incredibly biased approach to the presidential coverage?

McCabe: I think people are trying to figure out what happens next with the relationship between the Republican Party or at least conservatives and the media. Because what Chris Wallace did frankly is in his own mind he said I have a chance to save the republic and get rid of Trump.

And that’s what I’m going to do is I’m going to use this opportunity. There’s a fabulous journalist Jonathan Swan with that Axios, and he has been getting leaks from the White House leaks from the Trump campaign from the beginning. there’s been a hand in glove relationship between the White House and Jonathan Swan.

And he was able to parlay that to the point where he got a big contract with Axios. And then if you remember three or four months ago, he sat down with the president to do an interview with the president and everyone at the White House thought it was going to be a nice fine discussion and instead Jonathan Swan decided that I am going to do has this opportunity to save the country from Trump. And this is the mindset in Washington. They really think that Trump is a dangerous person because he is tipping over the apple cart.

Leahy: Let me just argue about Fox News. Isn’t Fox News a little bit bipolar these days? I mean on what and you have Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity and Laura Ingram who are commentators on news pokes. But then you take the other end Chris Wallace he is a full-on left-wing Democrat supporter it seems to me.

McCabe: Well, yeah, it’s those three shows you’re talking about Tucker, Sean, and Laura that that’s sort of like I call that Fort Reagan. (Leahy chuckles) It’s like, you know, this loan outpost on the frontier. Because you know, even when you have a Brett Baier who’s, you know, kind of trying to play it down the middle, you know, all of his panelists are Trump haters.

Carmichael: I just you know, I’m the reason I’m disagreeing here is I agree that Chris Wallace did a was asking a bunch of setup questions. I agree with that. I agree that as a moderator he was not there. I agree that he interrupted. But Trump could have handled that so much better.

McCabe: My understanding is that Trump spent two hours on debate prep.

Carmichael: Well then but he had he could have spent more time if he had wanted to and I think he had one strategy. I think Trump had one strategy going in that debate was and that was to get under Joe Biden’s skin and have him start lashing out and muttering.

And Joe Biden was prepared for that. And Chris Wallace helped him and Trump didn’t adjust. What makes me so frustrated is Trump’s record is absolutely outstanding and Joe Biden’s record is abysmal for 47 years.

McCabe: I think Trump got his licks in and I think over time we’ll see that Trump was very effective playing through TV audience.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Donald Trump-Joe Biden Presidential Debate” by ABC News.








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