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Clinton won debate by letting Trump talk

As a political scientist I am often asked if I intend to run for politics. My answer has always been quite emphatically no. I don't think my skin is thick enough for the horrors of contemporary politics.

As a political scientist I am often asked if I intend to run for politics.

My answer has always been quite emphatically no. I don't think my skin is thick enough for the horrors of contemporary politics. But, I would like to be, just once maybe, a senior campaign advisor.

I would like to strategize for a great candidate and with an aim to elevate political debate.

Since it is not likely my dream will come true, I have a habit of watching political debates and imagining that I am standing in the wings as the campaign manager.

It is in this context that I thought I would analyze Monday's presidential debate.

If I had been Donald Trump's campaign manager, I would have noted the following things. First, I would have been angry at myself that I allowed the candidate to think that he could participate in a 90-minute live broadcast without sufficient preparation.

I can imagine in the discussion in the weeks before the debate that there would have been concern about scripting Trump too much and giving him myriad facts and figures and policy plans to memorize.

But I would have kicked myself for not anticipating every question and for failing to teach Trump how to turn a question around.

There is no doubt that Trump would have done better if he had prepared stylistically, even if he had not prepared substantively.

Second, in preparation for the second debate, I would now haul him into a room and make him watch his performance with no sound on so that he can see how his facial expressions and his body language give away his temperament.

I would also ensure that next time he has a handkerchief.

If I were Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, I would have sent her into the debate with those few key messages that she was able to articulate: references to racism and misogyny and finding ways to avoid paying taxes but I would have kicked myself for letting her use the expression "Trumped up trickle down."

I expect the slogan was meant to "catch on" and to be seen as very witty.

Besides the mixed metaphor, understanding the expression "Trumped up trickle down" actually requires some knowledge of economic theory.

At its simplest, "trickle down" refers to the idea that wealth will find its way down to the lower classes if the upper classes are allowed to get richer.

In addition to understanding that reference, I would have to be able to connect Trump's economic policies to the theory in order to make sense of the "Trumped up" reference.

My point is if I have to stop and explain the components of my catchy phrase, it is not likely that the general public will be using the slogan around the water cooler.

In fact, Clinton's task in the first debate was not to sound too elitist.

I thought she was thinking on her feet when after she said it twice she appeared to realize how shallow it sounded and she dropped it.

In my imagined role as her campaign manager I would have been very happy that she was able to control the impulse to interrupt Trump. The very best strategy of the night was simply to allow him to keep talking.

Trump's ill-preparedness for the debate was obvious because he could not turn his long convoluted answers into anything substantive.

As much as Clinton wanted to jump in and refute him, she was able to demonstrate a more reserved "temperament."

By all accounts, except for Trump's, Clinton won the debate.

But if I were her campaign manager, I would not count on meeting such an ill-prepared opponent next time.

I am not sure that his advisors will prepare him with any more substance but they will, I'm sure, train him in two key areas: listening without emotion and turning a question around into his own favour.

She was the master of those two skills in the first debate.

The question, of course, is whether or not the debate will have any significant impact on the polls. The first signs seem to say yes.

So round two taking place on Oct. 9 will be critical for gaining the momentum into the last few weeks of the race.