One experienced debate coach says that Republican Donald Trump would be smart to "take the high road and apologize" at Sunday's U.S. presidential campaign debate for his crude comments about seducing women that were captured on tape a decade ago.
"In general, people are forgiving," University of Michigan debate coach Aaron Kall told VOA. "If he shows contrition, it would serve him well."
But Kall said he thinks "it may seem a little bit of desperation" on Trump's part if he then attacks Democrat Hillary Clinton for purportedly enabling infidelities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and disparaging women who have claimed over the years that Clinton made unwanted sexual overtures to them.
Bill Clinton, who served two terms as the U.S. chief executive ending in 2001, was impeached for lying about a White House affair with an intern. But he was not convicted in a Senate trial, which would have forced his removal from office..
Trump has suggested he will raise the allegations against the Clintons, which Kall said "would excite his base. They would really be riled up by that."
But he added, "I don't know how that would serve (Trump). People do not want to re-litigate that period" of the late 1990s. People are forward-looking. They're more concerned about jobs, pocketbook issues."
Kall said the townhall debate format set for Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri, presents both Trump and Clinton challenges to show empathy with undecided voters in the debate hall and to millions watching on television. Some of the 40 people in the audience will get a chance to ask the two candidates questions about their views on a variety of issues, as will two seasoned television newscasters.
Dozens of prominent Republicans have declared Donald Trump unfit to serve as president, and some are urging him to withdraw from the race.
The debate coach said the format can be tricky for the candidates, compared to the most common debate set-up in which the two candidates stand behind podiums.
"You're sharing a stage with your opponent, talking to undecided voters, with two credible moderators, walking around and trying to answer a question in two minutes," he said.
Kall said he gives Trump, a brash real estate mogul, the edge in handling the townhall format because of his years hosting a television reality show.
Other analysts have said they think Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, will be able to navigate the townhall debate better because she has done it numerous times in several political campaigns, while Trump is seeking elected office for the first time.