Less than a week until the first presidential debate. The pressure must be excruciating on ... Lester Holt of NBC News, the first moderator. Two weeks ago I suggested questions Holt should ask both candidates.
They were almost exclusively designed to elicit differences between Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's policy positions. It wouldn't necessarily make for good television, but it would be educational.
But TV, if anything, is about ratings and keeping an audience engaged. So here's a different list of questions I believe Holt should ask of them individually and sometimes together (you'll notice I have more questions for Trump because, in my humble opinion, he has more explaining to do).
Trump and Clinton: What is the greatest threat facing the United States?
T: What information changed your mind about President Obama's birth in the United States? When did this information reach you?
C: What made you think the public did not have a right to know about your recent pneumonia?
T: Why do you feel the public does not have the right to see your tax returns as all presidential candidates, and many seeking lower offices and judicial positions, have released them over the last four decades?
T: You have called Hillary Clinton crooked. Can you point to any examples of crooked behavior?
T: You have called for paid family leave. Do you already provide it in your own companies, and if not, why not? Also, you have promised paid family leave but Republicans in Congress have not supported such a measure. How can the public expect you to fulfill that promise?
C: If Republicans maintain control of one or both houses of Congress how will you be able to get your platform passed?
C: Why should the American public trust you when time and again you have not been totally forthcoming when explaining your email server and your recent illness?
T: You have called Secretary Clinton "lyin' Hillary," yet time and again independent fact checkers have labeled more of your statements as untrue by a wide margin even though you have promised never to lie to the American public. Why should they believe you?
T: Almost all reputable scientists believe sea levels are rising due to climate change. Your property, Mar-a-Lago, sits on the beach in Palm Beach, Fla. Do you believe in the forecasts by the scientists and if not what evidence have you to the contrary?
C and T: What can be done to stop sleeper cell terrorists, many of whom would be natural or naturalized citizens, from attacking Americans on our homeland?
T: You have said "to the victor go the spoils," that we should have taken Iraqi oil and left troops in Iraq to guard the oil wells and that to combat terrorism we should torture suspects and kill the families of terrorists, all violations of international law. Is that the standard you want to set for the United States?
C: The Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments and citizens. Why should we believe you have not been influenced or would not be influenced by such funding?
T: Why do you believe right wing and racist fringe organizations have expressed support for your campaign?
T: Illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than American citizens. What would you do to reduce crime in America?
C: What went wrong in Iraq, Libya and Syria under your watch as secretary of state and why should we believe you would handle future crises differently and better?
T: You have said your response to threats against NATO allies would be dependent on their financial support of our troops. Is that a prudent plan in dealing with Russia?
C: Time and again you advocate a cautious, measured response to events and the status quo in government. Yet the American public appears interested in decisive leadership that would break up the status quo, which you seem reluctant to provide. Why should they expect you to be an agent of change?
T and C: Which three presidents or world leaders, living or dead, do you admire and why?
T: Our greatest economic gains over the last 40 years occurred under Democratic administrations that advocated and passed higher taxes on the wealthy, while lower taxes under Republican administrations did not produce the promised gains for the middle and working classes. Please explain why your tax strategy would reverse this reality?
C: As a senator you voted for the Iraq war. As secretary of state you advocated involvement in Libya and Syria. What is your standard for military intervention by the United States?
T: You recently said if Irani planes or boats interfere with our ships we should shoot them. Are you willing to risk a war over such provocations?
T and C: Almost all of our domestic terror attacks have been perpetrated by lone wolves. Is there any way to prevent such attacks?
C and T: How would you change the Affordable Care Act? Would you reduce or eliminate benefits that the ACA provided?
C: Do you endorse a path to legalization for illegal immigrants? Would they earn the right to vote?
T: Clarify your position on who and when deportations of illegal immigrants would occur. What is your position on dreamers, the children of undocumented aliens who were brought here as children?
C: A Clinton administration to many would seem to be a continuation of the Obama administration. What would be different?
T and C: After you are sworn in what executive actions would you take within your first week in office?
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