Huron Debate Coach Scores Presidential Debate Really, Really Low

My friend Mitch Gaffer has coached debate at Huron High School for 32 years. He says Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both put in novice performances in Sunday’s “debate”:

“Right now we get all of this belief without any proof,” he said. “One of the most basic rules of debate is to prove what you say, to have a warrant to what you say.”

ABC fact checkers found dozens of occasions where both candidates made misleading or entirely false statements.

“For example when he said, ‘I never said go look at this former Miss Universe’s sex tape,’ alright play the tape, here’s the tweet, we see that, he lied about that,” Gaffer said [Bridget Bennett, “Huron Debate Coach Says Candidates Lack Facts,” KSFY, 2016.10.10].

Gaffer says that on the standard 30-point high school debate ballot, he’d give the two major-party nominees scores in the teens—ouch! Usually at tournaments, if I turn in a ballot with teens for speaker points, I’d better be reporting that someone dropped an f-bomb or threw a punch in the round. But then Trump and Clinton are grown-ups—they should know better.

Bonus Brilliant Coaching—Gaffer coaches kids who know how to use French:

“I’ve let my composure slip once or a twice in a round, I’ve raised my voice a little bit, and that’s when my argument started to slip as well,” [senior Trey] Litwiller said. “So the moment you start to disrespect your opponent, you don’t have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that my argument is right. So I feel like the presidential candidates could learn something from that” [Bennett, 2016.10.10].

Bien dit, Trey! Like all good South Dakota debaters and coaches, you sais your debate quoi very well.

False Equivalency Watch: Bennett says ABC found “dozens of occasions where both candidates made misleading or entirely false statements.” Yet the main ABC debate fact-check article displayed in Bennett’s article looks at only 17 debate claims, 16 by Trump and one by Clinton. ABC rated 10 of the 16 Trump claims False or Mostly False. Other fact-checks by MPR, USA Today, and Politifact find Trump setting off False flag far more often than Clinton.

9 Responses to Huron Debate Coach Scores Presidential Debate Really, Really Low

  1. Scoring the debate in the teens? Wow! that is being generous. In my book they both should of scored much lower, like somewhere below five. ( I gave them each one point for showing up, and second for wearing appropriate clothes)
    Donald Trump is a showman plain and simple, he comes to the debate like and owns it. he is putting on a performance. he deflected the questions, and steered the conversation to what he wants.
    Hillary Clinton did the same, and she has many more years of experience. and was very crafty done. They really didn’t answer the any of the questions.

    This wasn’t a debate, is was street brawl between established government versus big business.

    May I suggest the next debate be a WWE Smackdown event with all four campaigns.

  2. bearcreekbat

    Okay, I am pretty dense about debate scoring, but what did Hillary do to deserve a low score? Trump’s low score seems justified by his odd and aggressive physical behavior and his obviously false statements but I am having trouble figuring out why Hillary is given a low score and nothing in your quotes seems to explain the coach’s conclusion about Hillary.

  3. Cory, Bravo! for The False Equivalency Watch. These two candidates are not the same (or even similar).

  4. David Bergan

    Wow, did this bring back the memories for me! I attended Mitch’s summer LD debate camp at Mount Marty after 9th, 10th, and 11th grades… including being one of the three in his inaugural class, with Melanie Hunhoff and Nick Zachariasen. (or 4, if you count non-trad student Leo Kallis) That was such a tight group, such a fun chummy time together. And I’m glad Mitch still has that contagious passion in his eyes.

    Those were the days when Cory and I corresponded with ink and stamps, and it was at debate camp that I first appreciated Hotmail because I could access email from any computer in the world. It was like having a PO box that was always with me.

    Then there was that one tournament in Huron where I was a judge and gave a debater 0 speaker points for belittling his (female) opponent… and it happened to be one of Mitch’s students… and Mitch was running the tab room. I was judging on Cory’s behalf, and when he heard, he asked me, “ZERO SPEAKER POINTS!? What happened? Did he hit her?” We all got caught up in each others’ passions that day. It was quite the tab room battle. Fortunately, Paul Harens brought the wisdom of Solomon and noone died.

    Kind regards,

  5. To refer to both of their performances as the same, in most ANY regard is to equivocate Hillary with Trump – which I believe is 100% pure madness. What we saw in the debate was narcissism vs greater decency.

    All Trump did was swing his johnson all over the room as hard and fast as possible in order to distract us from the new juicy leak about how he uncontrollably grabs women’s genitals.

  6. I offered a donation to the brothers at African Americans for Trump in their effort to help Danny Williams find his Dad. They said “no thanks.” Maybe they plan a –better late then never– shot gun wedding.

    African Americans for Trump 2016 added 2 new photos.

    October 3 at 8:33am ·

    Lock her up.


  7. David, when I watched Mitch’s interview, I thought of your zero-point ballot. Remember that heated conversation took place in that very building. Interesting that your zero-point ballot responded to someone behaving like Trump.

    Jerry—what the heck?

    Adam, O—yup! I think the press promulgates that false equivalency in their attempt to shield themselves behind a pretend neutrality. They violate their own professional obligations by fanning such false thinking. I’m much happier to run a blog where I can write my own stories and speak the truth as I see it instead of having to pretend to a false balance.

  8. Don Coyote

    What? No score for the other two “debaters” Cooper and Raddatz?

  9. John Wrede

    In other words, it couldn’t even be called a debate! What was it? How, in the name of common decency, ethics and morality, did this country fall into this hideous political septic tank that we’re in. And further, what does it say about the populations mental and emotional health when we support and defend candidates for public office that demonstrate the behavior of juvenile delinquents and intellectual derelicts? How is it humanly possible to believe, at any level, that people like Trump, Clinton, Pence, Thune, Rounds, Noem or any of them have the credibility and integrity to lead the most powerful and affluent nation on earth. There isn’t even any common set of facts upon which anyone can or will conduct an honest and sincere debate. Everybody fabricates their own and from there, they seem to expect all us out in the hinter land to believe them. What an insult to the human ethics and honesty………….