Behind the scenes of Clinton's debate prep ...

By Alexandra Petri comment

Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine. Too nice to fight? Photo / AP
Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine. Too nice to fight? Photo / AP

COMMENT

Various sources report that Hillary Clinton is having trouble locating a Donald Trump substitute to stand in for him as she prepares for their first debate. I can only imagine.

Hillary Clinton stands at the ready in front of a big stack of angry newsprint, a child's crude papier-mache of Jabba the Hutt, one of those giant plastic chairs shaped like a hand, an empty Segway gone rogue and Tim Kaine in an ill-fitting suit.

Hillary: Whenever you're ready, Tim.

Tim Kaine hesitates.

Tim: I'm just - I - I don't want to say mean things to you, Hillary.

Hillary: I know that you won't mean them, Tim.

Tim: I know that. Of course. In theory, I totally know that, but I worry that in the heat of the moment I might become carried away and say something hurtful that you would remember.

Hillary emits a low, hollow chuckle.

Hillary: Don't worry, Tim. If I remembered when people said mean things about me, I would never speak to the media again.

Tim: You haven't held a press conference in almost 300 days.

Hillary: I know, but I could. At any point. Go on. Be Trump.

Tim: I don't want to fight you, Hills. There must be someone better suited to this.

Hillary: You did that impression of him at the convention. It seemed to go over well. Just do more of that.

Tim: (long pause) Believe me. (snaps out of it) No, I can't. This is taking me to a head-space where I don't want to be.

Hillary: Tim, just go for it.

Tim: (draws himself up) Some people say (long pause) that you are not a beautiful woman, inside and out, who is going to take this country to a better place than it's ever been, with a steady hand and a clear head and just, ughhhh, Tim Kaine believes in you so much, he does, but, uh, some people, some people are not Tim Kaine. (beat) Uh, believe me.

Hillary: Tim, is that even an insult?

Tim: That's his style, Hillary. He insinuates that other people are saying mean things. He doesn't say it directly. (clears throat) Uh. They say, they say that you are not a cherished friend.

Hillary: Tim.

Tim: I CAN'T, HILLS. I JUST CAN'T. (tears form in his eyes) This world is an ugly enough place without us stooping to his level and tearing ourselves apart from within.

Hillary: Tim -

Tim: If there was one lesson I took away from Captain America: The Winter Soldier -

Hillary: Tim, this is practice. I need to practice.

Tim: No, Hillary. That would be letting him win. You are - you are a wonderful person and I just - I believe in you so much. (very intensely) I hope you know that.

Hillary: (pushes button on desk) Can someone send Bill in here, please?

Bill Clinton walks in.

Hillary: Bill, Tim's not doing a good job of attacking me.

Bill: Attacking you? Who's attacking you? LET ME AT 'EM!

Tim Kaine produces a tray of snacks.

Tim: I just felt so bad after our misunderstanding earlier that I had to make something for you, and I thought, say it with snickerdoodles.

Hillary: I understand what you are all trying to do, but this actually isn't helping.

Bill: No one comes at Hillary on my watch without fisticuffs!

Hillary turns to her aide, Huma Abedin.

Hillary: Huma, do we have anyone else?

Huma: We found a 4-year-old who was irritable because he had not had his nap yet, but he is napping now.

Hillary: Could we wake him up?

Huma: I also have this list of 347 likely Trump insults that are computer generated, which I can have the computer read to you and we can come up with 347 canned responses.

Hillary: This sounds more like my kind of plan.

Abedin turns the computer on.

Computer: YOU ARE UGLY AND DUMB, LIKE A CLOWN, BUT NOT THE KIND OF CLOWN THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH, THE KIND OF CLOWN WHO HAS AN FX SERIES, AND NOBODY LAUGHS BUT I GUESS IT IS ZACH GALIFIANAKIS'S PASSION PROJECT OR SOMETHING.

Hillary: Who wrote this program?

Computer: YOUR BODY IS DECAYING WITH THE RAVAGES OF TIME.

Hillary: Well -

Computer: THE CLINTON FOUNDATION IS PROBLEMATIC.

(Bill punches the computer so that it breaks.)

Bill: (shaking with rage) You take that back! You take that back!

Hillary: Bill -

Tim: (sobbing into his sheet of cookies) It isn't worth it! It isn't worth it! Can't we all just get along? Look at us! We're becoming just like them.

Meanwhile, at Trump headquarters.

Trump yells at an increasingly uncomfortable Paul Ryan.

Donald: You're disgusting. You disgust me. Blood every-which-where. Disgusting! Awful deals - just awful! This is what you will get! Crooked! So crooked!

Paul Ryan stands there fidgeting.

Paul: I didn't realise I was your Hillary stand-in or I would have prepared something.

Donald: What? No, I'm talking to you, Paul.

- Washington Post

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