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Can Hillary avoid the Al Gore trap?


With the polls tightening, Clinton needs to do something to shake up the race during the debate at Hofstra tonight. The obvious solution: Go on the attack. Rebut Trump with statistics and studies. Demonstrate powerfully and persuasively that the brash real estate mogul loses his cool under pressure, that he’s not presidential material.

But that strategy also comes with a risk, one that’s especially pronounced for a woman. In 2000, when Al Gore was squaring off against George W. Bush, commentators expected Gore, with his superior grasp on the issues and experience, to dominate the debates. Instead, America rejected the bookish know-it-all who appeared on stage.

Earlier this evening, I wrote that Clinton was in the best position to fact-check Donald Trump’s lies. But at the same time, if she’s constantly jumping on Trump, she could come off much like Gore did in 2000.

It’s a particularly delicate line to walk as a woman. Too assertive, and Clinton risks looking like a scold; too reticent, and she looks weak. Women in politics have long faced this double bind. In that sense, Clinton risks looking bad no matter what.