Clinton debate strategy: Attack Trump's insecurities

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How Clinton, Trump are preparing for debates

With less than a month to go before the first presidential debate Hillary Clinton's team is plotting ways to get under Donald Trump's skin, hoping to goad him into making a fatal mistake in front of his biggest audience yet.

Clinton's team is poring over his previous debates, speaking with the ghostwriter behind Trump's best-selling memoir and other experts to draw up a psychoanalytical profile they hope will expose his vulnerabilities as a debater, a report in The New York Times explains.

The Democratic nominee has all but disappeared from the public eye in August, taking advantage as Americans are distracted by the Labor Day holiday and heading back to school, to pull in millions at closed-door fundraisers and bury herself in debate preparation.

See some of Clinton's biggest debates from over the years:

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Hillary Clinton heated debate moments
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Hillary Clinton heated debate moments
US Democratic presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) shake hands at the conclusion of the Texas Democratic Party's presidential candidates debate at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas, February 21, 2008. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) speaks as Senator Bernie Sanders reacts during a Democratic debate hosted by CNN and New York One at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) listens as Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks during the CNN/Nevada Democratic Party debate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) in Las Vegas, Nevada November 15, 2007. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES)
U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) looks out into the crowd before the start of the democratic presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire September 26, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gestures at rival Bernie Sanders as she speaks during the Democratic U.S. presidential candidates' debate in Flint, Michigan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Hillary Rodham Clinton (right) speaks during the first New York Senatorial Debate as Representative Rick Lazio (R-NY) (left) watches at WNED public television station in Buffalo, New York, September 13, 2000. Clinton and Lazio are running against each other for the Senate seat from the State of New York being vacated by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. BM/RCS
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (L) speaks as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on as they discuss issues during the Democratic presidential candidates debate sponsored by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) and her Republican challenger John Spencer prepare for their debate in New York October 22, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shares a laugh with fellow candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders at the conclusion of the second official 2016 U.S. Democratic presidential candidates debate in Des Moines, Iowa, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young (TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) looks on as Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks during the last debate before the Ohio primary in Cleveland, Ohio, February 26, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
US Democratic presidential candidates Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) square off in the last debate before the Ohio primary in Cleveland, Ohio February 26, 2008. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
Democratic presidential candidate US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) gestures as she answers a question during the MSNBC/Nevada Democratic Party presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
Democratic presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks as Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) listens during the MSNBC/Nevada Democratic Party Presidential Candidate's debate in Las Vegas January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
Democratic presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) wait before the South Carolina Democratic party's presidential candidates debate at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, April 26, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES)
Republican Senate candidate Rick Lazio (L) and Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (R) pose for photogarphers before their debate in a television studio in New York on October 27, 2000. Lazio, a Long Island congressman, and the first lady are vying for the seat held by retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. NBC newsman Gabe Pressman (C) moderated the taped debate. PM/ME
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Considered a skilled and deeply prepared debater, Clinton and her team are researching her opponent, relying on the expertise of, among others, Tony Schwartz, who spent 18 months in the mid-1980s in close contact with Trump as he penned "The Art of the Deal." Earlier this summer, Schwartz spoke out about the experience for the first time, describing the real estate mogul a "sociopath."

In a profile in the New Yorker last month, Schwartz described Trump as a narcissist with a short attention span, a deep need for affirmation and little interest in studying complex problems.

The report in the Times suggests that Clinton and her advisers think they can bait Trump by homing in on what they believe to be his deepest insecurities: his intelligence, his business success and his fortune.

She is also practicing parries for what her team expects will be a barrage of personal attacks, such as those focused on the infidelities of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, or her health, as well as broad swipes at her real vulnerabilities, like her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

Despite his inexperience as a political debater, Trump was able to command the spotlight during the Republican primary debates, insulting and overwhelming his opponents. Pundits often declared his performances problematic, but he nonetheless rose in the polls over 16 rivals as voters responded to his unconventional style.

RELATED: Meet the people running Hillary Clinton's campaign

For his part, Trump has resisted the traditional avenues of preparation, including the usual mock debate rehearsals.

"I believe you can prep too much for those things," Trump told the Times in an interview. "It can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony – like you're trying to be someone you're not."

"I know who I am, and it got me here," he said. "I don't want to present a false front. I mean, it's possible we'll do a mock debate, but I don't see a real need."

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