One of the biggest questions heading into tonight’s presidential debate is one that the moderator will never ask: what if Hillary has a coughing fit—and what should Trump do if she does?
Rush Limbaugh posed this question on his show on Friday while comparing the stage and screen presence of the two candidates. Trump has a commanding presence, while Hillary clearly does not. But more troubling for Hillary and her supporters are questions about her health.
“Now you throw in whatever is going on with her health… and the people in her camp, I’m sure they’re scared to death. ‘Cause they can’t predict and they can’t control when these episodes that she has happen.”
The unpredictability of her health has to be a major concern for her handlers. All the debate prep, the stage crafting, the carefully rehearsed lines—none of that will matter if she’s delivering “zingers” over a wheezing coughing fit.
And it is a legitimate concern, given Hillary’s year-long history of launching into unpredictable, prolonged coughing fits at campaign events. At her Cleveland event, Hillary launched into a coughing fit that lasted more than four minutes, which she tried to pass off in a canned line: “Every time I think about Trump, I get allergic.”
Hillary refused to give press conferences for over 270 days —only to launch into one those fits when she finally spoke to the media on her own plane.
— Trump Super PAC (@TrumpSuperPAC) September 6, 2016
Optics has certainly played a role in past presidential elections; most famously during the 1960 debate between Nixon and Kennedy, which was also the first televised presidential debate. Nixon was still recovering from the flu, had re-injured a knee earlier in the day and, after a long, grueling day on the campaign, was exhausted by the time debate kicked off that night. Meanwhile, Kennedy had spent the weekend resting at his hotel “fielding practice questions.”
When the camera lights came on, the physical contrast was clear. In the end, those who listened to the debate over the radio believed Nixon won; those who saw Nixon on TV saw him sweating and looking agitated and believed Kennedy won.
Sweating always makes you look nervous. What would a five-minute coughing fit make Hillary look like?
But what should Trump do if she starts coughing and just can’t stop? Rush wondered, “Should Donald Trump leave his podium and walk to her podium to offer comfort and assistance? … Should [he] lean over to her or walk to her and offer to help, like pick up her bottle of water and hand it to her?”
Is it gentlemanly to let her cough away? What if she gets to the point of choking. It would be historic, for sure, to witness the first presidential Heimlich maneuver on live TV.
To help Trump, here are five Things Trump Should do if Hillary Starts Coughing. Except #3 won’t work, because the debate organizers already denied her a stool.
What will Trump do?
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