MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough said Wednesday morning that Donald Trump will "surprise a lot of people" in the upcoming presidential debate on September 26 thanks to lowered expectations.
Scarborough, a strong critic of Trump after being chummy with him during the primary season, reflected on a recent visit to Washington, D.C where he asked many people about their opinions regarding the presidential race and how they didn't think the race was a toss-up. He then said that the race is in fact tight.
"Two weeks later, it's amazing the bad run she's had, the good run he's had as far as being more disciplined than before. You know, I guess the USC tracking poll yesterday had Trump up by three points. I think what we're going to see in the coming weeks, we'll see a lot of those races tighten up," Scarborough said.
Politico co-founder Jim Vandehei agreed that the polls are definitely tightening, but he didn't think Trump could win in Virginia, Colorado, or New Hampshire, all critical swing states.
"If you take Colorado and Virginia, two states that should be swing states, there's a big gap right there. Even if it tightens, there's still an inherent advantage for Hillary Clinton. Couldn't it turn? Sure. You look at the Maine poll in the Boston Globe this morning that has Maine tied and Bloomberg shows Trump up in Ohio," Vandehei said.
Vandehei said that if he was Trump training for the debates, he would go into a barn for three weeks and train like Rocky in the movie Rocky III, but he would still bet his money on Clinton winning.
"I think he can," he said. "I think he's going to surprise a lot of people. I think expectations are low."
Referencing the Maine poll showing Trump and Clinton virtually tied, Scarborough reminded the panel that no Republican had won the state since 1988. He then discussed how Reagan was perceived as a clown by the elites in the 1980s and that people should not dismiss Trump yet.
"This is the problem. You paint Donald Trump as this crazy maniac that's going to start World War III. He goes out and looks rational for two hours. People will go—" Scarborough said.
"He's not that bad," MSNBC analyst Nicolle Wallace interjected.
Liberal columnist Mike Barnicle agreed with Scarborough.
"I think that was probably the biggest fear of the Clinton campaign, that if Donald Trump in the first debate doesn't light the stage on fire, he wins because the expectations are so low for him," he said. "If he's able to give the impression that he's a moderate, sensible, not a loud mouth, not a crazy person, because of the expectations game, he's going to do fine."
Clinton surrogate Howard Dean also agreed when it comes to the expectations game and praised Trump's teleprompter skills, but he said that there are no teleprompters in the debates and that it would be difficult for Trump to control the narrative.
"I think Hillary's got a core to her of things that she deeply believes in," he said. "She doesn't always express them as well as she could."