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Nearly three hours prior to the first presidential debate, a Politico reporter posed the question, “Has [Donald] Trump already won?” The reporter concluded that “just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won” because he “could have a bad night” due to his lack of “intimate knowledge” of domestic or foreign policy, but he still won his party’s nomination. Politico’s question underscores the common theme among the media of setting different bars for Hillary Clinton and Trump to meet in order to judge their performance at the debate a success. From the September 26 Politico live blog:
Donald Trump -- the reality TV star who announced his candidacy after awkwardly gliding down an escalator, and then proceeded to call Mexican immigrant rapists and criminals -- is about to stand on the debate stage next to Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party, a woman who has been at the pinnacle of American public life for three decades.
And that alone is a victory. Trump overcame long odds to get here, breaking all the rules of politics and offending a lot of people along the way.
So, yeah -- of course Trump could have a bad night. He’s not likely to impress voters with his intimate knowledge of entitlement programs or Syrian rebel groups. And Clinton is an experienced and canny debater who knows domestic and foreign policy backwards and forwards. But just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won.