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The Race for President

The Race for President

Bill Goodman and guests discuss the presidential election campaigns. Guests: State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester; state Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington; Iris Wilbur, a Republican political operative; and former Congressman Mike Ward, a Louisville Democrat.
S23 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere: 9.25.16

2016 Presidential Election: the Debate and Beyond

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump met in their first televised debate Monday night. The highly anticipated meeting included contentious exchanges on trade, domestic policy, international affairs, race and policing, qualifications and experience, and more.

Earlier in the evening, four Kentuckians talked about the debate and what to expect from the two major party candidates during the remainder of the campaign. The Kentucky Tonight guests were state senators Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) and Reginald Thomas (D-Lexington) as well as political operatives Mike Ward, a Democrat, and Iris Wilbur, a Republican. Here are five key points from their conversation.

1. Appearances Matter
Alvarado said voters, especially the ones who are still undecided, want to see which candidate can appear presidential and exhibit the characteristics they expect in a leader. Thomas put the appearance factor into more succinct terms. He contends that Clinton must come off as warm and relatable, not stiff and distant, whereas Trump has to avoid sounding “wild and crazy.”

Wilbur said the first 20 minutes of the debate are the most important for the candidates. She agrees that the Republican must avoid any major mistakes while still remaining true to his genuine personality. On the other hand, she says the Democrat has to demonstrate how her decades of government experience will make her an unflappable leader.

People expect Clinton “to have a flawless performance and if she has the slightest stumble, it will be seen as a huge failure,” Wilbur said. “I’ll be the first to say I think those expectations are unrealistic.”

2. To Change or Not to Change
Both candidates like to position themselves as change agents, but Clinton faces the challenges of being the Democrat who wants to follow a Democrat who has been in office for eight years. And whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on how voters view the state of the country.

Ward and Thomas point to lower unemployment rates, stability in the housing market, and more Americans with health insurance as indicators that the country is on the right track. They say Clinton will build on those gains to take the nation forward.

Alvarado and Wilbur argue that Clinton will maintain a status quo that includes a failing coal industry, growing racial tensions and terrorism threats, increased regulations, and failures in the health care system.

3. Experience Versus Personality
Although the candidates like to tout their decades of experience, Trump’s in business and Clinton’s in government, Wilbur says the debate and the election will likely turn more on broad themes and personality than on their personal resumes.

Experience does matter but it has to be the right experience, says Alvarado. He contends Clinton was a failure as secretary of state and the nation doesn’t need that kind of experience moving into the Oval Office. The Republican is strongly critical of how Clinton handled the 2012 attack on an U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Alvarado says Clinton misled Americans about what happened there, which makes her unfit to be president.

“What you have is someone who knew the truth, knew what it was, and then came out and said something [that’s] a complete lie,” Alvarado says. “I want a leader who’s going to look into the camera and say, ‘we’re going into a conflict, this is exactly what’s going on,’ and they’re going to tell me the truth.”

Citing Trump’s statements about President Obama’s place of birth, Ward contends the Republican has his own problems with honesty. He also points to Trump’s statements that appear to encourage violence against people who disagree with him. Thomas adds that he is troubled by how Trump has failed to disavow connections to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the so-called alt-right movement that promotes white superiority and American nationalism.

“So you have someone who has made it a point to widen divisions in this country between black and white, and who has constantly preached a rhetoric of hate,” Thomas says. “Donald Trump is not going to do anything…to heal our racial tensions.”

4. The Undecideds and the Unfavorables
Recent polls show that about 8 percent of voters remain undecided with six weeks until Election Day. If the race remains close, how those undecideds swing could make the difference in who wins the White House.

Wilbur says she believes that suburban housewives and millennials comprise the majority of undecided voters at this point. She says women are concerned more about jobs, economic policy, and security issues than who might be the first female president.

Wooing voters off the fence is even harder when the candidates have such high unfavorability ratings. Recent polling shows that more than half of Americans have unfavorable opinions of both Trump and Clinton.

Ward says he’s not surprised that so many people have a poor view of Clinton.

“Forty-two years of people beating on that woman have gotten her negatives really high,” Ward says. “You’ve got to give it to Donald Trump: He’s been able to match her negatives in just a year.”

5. Flipping the Kentucky House
State senators Alvarado and Thomas agree that Trump will likely win the commonwealth, but they differ on whether the Republican will have sufficient coattails to help candidates running for the state House of Representatives. The GOP hopes to wrest control of the House from Democrats for the first time in nearly a century.

Alvarado says Trump will benefit down-ballot Republicans because Kentucky voters want candidates who “support coal mining, gun rights, lower taxes, and a safer nation.”

Thomas predicts voters will do a lot of split-ticket balloting this year, which he says will result in Democrats maintaining control of the state House. He says Kentuckians appreciate the check-and-balance function that a Democratic House provides against the Republican-controlled Senate and governor’s office.

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Kentucky Tonight

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Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is an hour-long, weekly public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday evenings. Discussions focus on issues confronting Kentuckians.

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Season 23 Episodes

U.S. Senate Candidates

S23 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.31.16

6th U.S. Congressional District Candidates

S23 E42 Length 56:53 Premiere Date 10.24.16

Countdown to the Election

S23 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.17.16

Setting Education Policy

S23 E40 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.10.16

Jobs and Wages: Latest Trends

S23 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.2.16

The Race for President

S23 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.25.16

Forecasting the U.S. Economy

S23 E37 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 9.19.16

Changes to Kentucky's Medicaid

S23 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.12.16

U.S. Foreign Policy Issues

S23 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.29.16

Impact of Campaign Finance Laws

S23 E34 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.22.16

The Electoral College and Politics

S23 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.15.16

The Future of Medicaid in Kentucky

S23 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.1.16

Previewing the 2016 Election

S23 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.10.16

Gun Control vs. 2nd Amendment

S23 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.27.16

Debating Immigration Policy

S23 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.20.16

Debate Over Jobs and Wages

S23 E27 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.6.16

Decoding Kentucky's Primary

S23 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.23.16

2016 Primary Election Preview

S23 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.16.16

Democratic U.S. Senate Primary

S23 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.9.16

Republican U.S. Senate Primary Candidate

S23 E22 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.2.16

Republican 1st District Congressional Candidates

S23 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 4.25.16

Democratic 1st District Congressional Candidate

S23 E20 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.18.16

Democratic 6th District Congressional Candidates

S23 E19 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 4.11.16

Republican 6th District Congressional Candidates

S23 E17 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.28.16

Republican 3rd Congressional District Candidates

S23 E16 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 3.21.16

2016 General Assembly at Midpoint

S23 E15 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.29.16

Negotiations on State Budget

S23 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.22.16

Crafting New Education Policy

S23 E13 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.15.16

Debating the Minimum Wage

S23 E12 Length 56:31 Premiere Date 2.8.16

Assessing the Governor's Budget

S23 E11 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.1.16

Felony Records Expungement

S23 E10 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.25.16

Right to Work and Prevailing Wage

S23 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.18.16

Charter Schools in Kentucky

S23 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.11.16

Major Issues Await Legislature

S23 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.4.16

Solving the State Pension Crisis

S23 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12.14.15

Preparing for the 2016 General Assembly

S23 E4 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.23.15

Priorities for the State Budget

S23 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.16.15

Election Analysis

S23 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.9.15

What's at Stake in the 2015 Election?

S23 E1 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.2.15

About

Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is a public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday nights at 8/7c on KET and KET.org/live.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form on this page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

After broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonightwas awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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