And this is all political strategy. Walker for years claimed to have graduated from the University of Georgia in the top 1 percent of his class, although he didn’t graduate from the school at all.
But when he was there, The Times reported, he had “a B average in criminal justice.”
Now he’s framing himself as not at all smart.
It is all an attempt to lower the bar of the debate so low that anyone, even Walker, can clear it.
This is the same approach that George W. Bush’s team used against Al Gore. As Karen Hughes, the Bush adviser overseeing his debate prep, told The New York Times in 2016: “Keeping quiet was a way to keep expectations low for Governor Bush. In debates, you run against expectations almost as much as you run against your opponent.”
The debate was scored by many as a win by Bush, who came across as “relatable,” while the clearly more knowledgeable Gore was chastised for sighing during the debate and appearing exasperated with Bush, a dynamic that Politico magazine ranked as one of “the eight biggest unforced errors in debate history.”
It is the same tactic Trump used against Hillary Clinton, clearly the most qualified of the two for the presidency. As The Atlantic wrote at the time:
“Through a combination of months of campaigning, leaks about his debate prep, and aggressive working of the referees, Trump has set expectations so low that it’s hard to imagine how he finishes the debate without getting positive reviews from mainstream commentators.”
And sure enough, that’s what happened. As a Times article put it the day after the debate:
“By the standards Mr. Trump, his team and we in the news media seemed to have set for the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump cleared the bar. He stayed more or less in control, never directly insulted Mrs. Clinton and did not create new controversies over policy.”