Presidential Debate Guests Have Turned Into Psychological Weapons

October 19, 2016

Keep your friends and family close and the enemies of your enemies closer, right? That's apparently the strategy Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had in mind when they selected some of their debate guests. 

There's a calculated political reason behind the invitation of each non-familial guest of Trump or Clinton. Here's a roundup of who you can expect to see in the guest seats. 




Donald Trump's Guest List


Marcus Luttrell: Luttrell is a Navy SEAL who spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. He was the only soldier to survive an intense 2005 battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and his story was made popular by the book and movie "Lone Survivor." 

The stinger: Trump probably hopes Luttrell's military background and support will help build his brand as a capable commander in chief. 

Malik Obama: Obama is a Kenyan-born U.S. citizen who opposes gay marriage and calls Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi a friend. 

The stinger: He's President Obama's estranged half-brother. 

Patricia Smith: Smith is the mother of an American soldier who was killed during the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. 

The stinger: She says Clinton is responsible for the Benghazi attacks and the death of her son, she's also claimed that Clinton lied to victims' families after the fact. 

Wayne Newton: (aka "Mr. Las Vegas") He's a billionaire and good friend of Trump's. 

The stinger: He's mostly here to defend Trump's character, as he's consistently said in response to Trump's sexual assault allegations, "I have never seen him treat women in a derisive way in any form or fashion." 




Hillary Clinton's Guest List 


Meg WhitmanWhitman is CEO of Hewlett-Packard and former executive at eBay. 

The stinger: Another self-made billionaire. And she's a former Republican California gubernatorial candidate who has called Trump a "demagogue" and said he would "endanger our national security." 

Mark Cuban: He's the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. 

The stinger: Another self-made billionaire. He also said this: "Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?" And he sarcastically tweeted this on Tuesday: 



Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Abdul-Jabbar is a retired NBA star and a former cultural ambassador for the U.S. He spoke at the Democratic National Convention. 

The stinger: He wrote this seering anti-Trump piece for The Washington Post. 

Leon Panetta: Panetta is a former CIA director and was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. 

The stinger: Trump spends lots of time attacking Clinton's use of a private email server, so a former CIA director's support of her probably drives him nuts. Panetta has said Trump isn't qualified to be president.