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Alan Schroeder
Alan Schroeder is a professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston. Schroeder is the author of several books, including Presidential Debates: 50 Years of High-Risk TV (Columbia University Press, 2008) and Celebrity-in-Chief: How Show Business Took Over the White House (Westview Press, 2004). Schroeder has also written for Politico, the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
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Entries by Alan Schroeder

How the Democratic Debates Help Hillary Clinton

(100) Comments | Posted November 15, 2015 | 3:52 PM

Conventional wisdom holds that primary debates are bad for Hillary Clinton. According to this view, the Democratic front-runner has more to lose from sharing a stage with her rivals than she has to gain. Inevitably debates are risky; for a highly disciplined candidate like Clinton, this most unpredictable of campaign...

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Bad Debaters, Good Debaters: The Republicans in Milwaukee

(29) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 7:30 AM

A fundamental mystery underlies this season's Republican presidential primary debates: How can it be that the two highest-polling contenders -- Donald Trump and Ben Carson -- are also two of the field's least capable debaters? In the Republican candidates' fourth appearance together, Trump and Carson once again showed themselves to...

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Rocky Mountain Snooze: The Third 2016 GOP Debate

(67) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 1:55 AM

The third Republican presidential primary debate was a sprawling, messy affair that played out more as a battle between candidates and moderators than an exchange among the debaters. At this point the key problem is the sheer number of human beings on stage: it is virtually impossible to design a...

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Hillary and the Lost Boys

(338) Comments | Posted October 14, 2015 | 2:08 AM

If the first Democratic primary debate of the 2016 cycle showed us anything, it is the value of experience -- experience in politics, certainly, but also experience in the art of political communication. Hillary Clinton won the debate hands down, with a performance so disciplined and effective that it should...

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Democratic Primary Debates vs. Republican Primary Debates

(8) Comments | Posted October 10, 2015 | 6:58 PM

After two history-making Republican debates, what can we expect from the Democrats? Five contenders--Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb--will take the stage on Tuesday in a match that is likely to feel very different from the Republican extravaganzas of August and September. Some key points...

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Reagan Wannabes: The 2nd 2016 GOP Debate

(161) Comments | Posted September 17, 2015 | 2:24 AM

So here's what we learned from the second Republican presidential debate: Carly Fiorina knows how to sell her message -- and how to plant a shiv. Jeb Bush was a prep school pothead. And Donald Trump has neither the inclination nor the capacity to transcend his shtick and become a...

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Previewing the Second 2016 Republican Debate

(5) Comments | Posted September 15, 2015 | 2:56 PM

Six weeks have passed since the first Republican debate of the 2016 race, and as the cast of characters returns to the stage for their second match, campaign dynamics have come more sharply into focus. Let us examine where things stand, and how chapter two of this saga is likely...

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Rumble on the Cuyahoga: The First 2016 GOP Primary Debate

(57) Comments | Posted August 7, 2015 | 1:50 AM

Now that was a debate. Back in 2012 it was the live audience that got rowdy at the presidential primary debates. This time it was the folks onstage, candidates and moderators alike. And somehow it all stemmed from the presence of Donald Trump, the spiritual epicenter of this event, whose...

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The Undercard: First Impressions From the Second-Tier Republican Debate

(3) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 11:55 PM

A few initial reactions to the not-ready-for-prime-time "kids' table" debate that just aired on Fox...

First, there is a reason this was the undercard debate. Though some participants fared better than others, not a person on that stage delivered a performance so commanding that it merits promotion into the top...

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4 Tactics for Debating Donald Trump

(36) Comments | Posted July 27, 2015 | 7:36 AM

How do you debate a body slammer like Donald Trump? On August 6, at the first primary debate of the season, Trump's competitors for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will find out. The question is, do they find out the hard way, or will any of the nine others concoct...

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5 Questions About the Republican Presidential Debates

(44) Comments | Posted May 27, 2015 | 5:25 PM

The idea was to prevent chaos. Instead, efforts to control this season's Republican presidential primary debates have injected greater uncertainty into an already volatile process. With the first debate just a couple of months in the offing, and with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 candidates jockeying for position, the...

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What American Voters Can Learn From the Brits

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 11:17 AM

As I sat in the auditorium for the last big set piece of the 2015 British election--a televised town hall Q&A featuring the current prime minister and his two leading challengers--I found myself wishing that our American campaigns included equivalent opportunities for sharp, skeptical questioning by informed citizens. Thanks to...

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Stars Versus Supporting Cast: Reviewing the ITV Leaders' Debate

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2015 | 10:54 AM

Like situation comedies, multi-candidate debates follow well-established contours. Each genre hinges upon a diverse cast of characters in which two or three individuals dominate, with the others relegated to supporting-player status. By definition the front-runners get the starring roles, while the fringe candidates pop up as needed to supply one-liners,...

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Rick Scott's Epic Blunder

(38) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 1:33 PM

The dust-up over Charlie Crist's portable fan at the Florida gubernatorial debate has degenerated into a war of words over which side violated the pre-negotiated rules. The truth of who plugged in what device, and on whose authority, may forever remain lost in the murk of Sunshine State...

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The Senate Prospects of Ashley Judd

(35) Comments | Posted March 8, 2013 | 6:08 PM

Does Ashley Judd have the chops to defeat Mitch McConnell in next year's U.S. Senate race in Kentucky? Already the possibility of a Judd-McConnell matchup has spawned a mini-tornado of media speculation, not to mention a Karl Rove-sponsored attack ad. If and when Judd actually tosses her hat into the...

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The Dramatic Arc of the 2012 Presidential Debates

(52) Comments | Posted October 20, 2012 | 3:00 PM

Presidential debates are often likened to boxing matches, which makes sense if you view each debate as an individual event. Yet a different analogy merits consideration, particularly as we head into the final Obama-Romney showdown on Monday night. Let us think of the presidential debate cycle as a four-act play,...

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Veep Debate Post-Mortem: What the Pundits Missed

(433) Comments | Posted October 14, 2012 | 1:20 PM

A few lingering thoughts about the vice presidential debate...

Although I am a veteran debate observer, I often have difficulty discerning a clear victor when I watch these programs. Not this time. Joe Biden's performance may have been over-exuberant, even borderline obnoxious, but in two key ways Biden won this...

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Massachusetts Senate Debates, Round Three: Warren Over Brown

(344) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 10:55 PM

The third debate between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, candidates for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, accomplished something their two previous matches did not: it produced a winner. Professor Warren had her best night in the debate arena thus far, delivering a performance that was focused, confident and energetic. Although...

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Round One: A Post-Debate Post-Mortem

(20) Comments | Posted October 7, 2012 | 11:35 AM

Now that the first Obama-Romney debate has had a few days to germinate, it's time to consider the event from a production standpoint -- because in presidential debates, production decisions have political consequences.

STAGING AND VISUALS: The original proposal by the Commission on Presidential Debates called for a format...

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The Professor and the Jock: Elizabeth Warren Debates Scott Brown

(500) Comments | Posted September 20, 2012 | 10:30 PM

The opening debate between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, candidates for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, at times felt like the classroom dynamic between an earnest, soft-spoken high school English teacher and the defiant jock who plants himself in the back row and makes sour faces until the bell rings....

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