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The man famous for getting in Hillary Clinton’s face during the campaign that launched her political career has some debate advice for Donald Trump.
Stay at his lectern.
U.S. & World
Rick Lazio should know. The former Republican congressman didn't — and paid the price for a performance that has become a textbook example of what not to do when your opponent is a woman.
Lazio, today a partner with the Jones Walker law firm, ran against Clinton in 2000 for the U.S. Senate. At their first debate in Buffalo, New York, he crossed the stage to Clinton's lectern, pointing his finger as he urged her to sign a pledge about limiting the funding of their race. He was seen as hectoring, his campaign faltered and she went on to win.
Lazio's misstep is being recalled as Clinton and Donald Trump prepare for their debate on Monday, pitting the first woman to run as a major party presidential candidate versus the former reality TV star who has made browbeating opponents a key to his success. "Little Marco," "Lyin' Ted" and "Low-energy Jeb" have given way to "Crooked Hillary," but will he fling insults at her when they meet at New York's Hofstra University? Will Clinton goad him to try to show he is not suited for the presidency?
Trump said that he would curb his disparaging tone at the debate, to be moderated by NBC News' Lester Holt. The 90-minute debate will be televised by NBC and streamed on this site at 9 p.m. ET Monday.
"I'm going to be very respectful of her," he told Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "I think she deserves that and I'm going to be nice. And if she's respectful of me, that'll be nice."
That hasn't stopped him from mocking her on Twitter.
"Hillary is taking the day off again, she needs the rest," he tweeted Tuesday about her bout with pneumonia. "Sleep well Hillary — see you at the debate!"
For Clinton's part, she zeroed in on Trump's derisive comments when she spoke on Steve Harvey's radio show.
"I am going to do my very best to communicate as clearly and fearlessly as I can in the face of the insults and the attacks and the bullying and bigotry that we have seen coming from my opponent," Clinton said. "I can take it, Steve. I can take that kind of stuff. I have been at this, and I understand it is a contact sport."
Lazio, who said that neither Trump nor Clinton had earned his support, has several suggestions for Trump: Present a positive vision, be aware of non-verbal communication and don't go for the knock-out punch, but rather, amplify Clinton's negatives. Demonstrate enough knowledge of policy details to establish his credibility as president without trying to duel with someone who has been in and around Washington for nearly 25 years. And with nearly two-thirds of the public feeling that the country is on the wrong track, distinguish himself as the change agent and Clinton as more of the failed and uninspiring status quo.
"Have your team prepared and on high alert afterward to drive your debate message," he wrote. “There are two debates — as I well discovered — the actual event and what gets covered by the media and watched by the public afterward.
"And finally....stay at the podium!"