Trump points fingers after debate
GOP hopeful faults microphone, Holt as Clinton zeros in on his taxes at rally
MIAMI — If Donald Trump was concerned or contrite after his widely panned debate performance, there was no sign of it Tuesday as he resumed his attack on a former Miss Universe and blamed the moderator and a faulty microphone for repeatedly throwing him on the defensive.
While Hillary Clinton took a victory lap of sorts, hammering her opponent over his unreleased tax returns, Trump took to Twitter and Fox News to declare himself the winner and threaten an escalation of attacks in the next debate.
The GOP nominee also redoubled his criticism of former beauty queen Alicia Machado, signaling he has no plans to modify his strategy or tame his pugnacious personality — even as some Republicans called for a new approach.
Clinton rattled Trump in Monday night’s debate by citing his criticism of Machado in the 1990s, when he was executive producer of the Miss Universe pageant.
“She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem,” Trump said Tuesday on Fox News. Clinton “found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way.”
Trump said he was Donald Trump, who cited a faulty mic after the debate, declared victory Tuesday, but not everyone was buying it. tempted to respond by bringing up President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity. “Whenshe hit meat the end with the women, I was going to hit her with her husband’s women,” said Trump, himself an admitted adulterer. “And I decided I shouldn’t do it because her daughter was in the room.”
He may not be as restrained the next time, Trump said. He and Clinton are due to square off Oct. 9 in St. Louis.
Good or bad, a presidential debate performance tends not to change a great number of minds. But critical reviews and unflattering news coverage can alter the arc of a campaign and, with it, the momentum for or against a candidate.
The actions Tuesday of Trump allies were telling.
“Everyone is in agreement that he had a great 30 minutes,” said David Tamasi, a lobbyist who chairs Trump’s Washington, D.C., finance committee and attended the debate at Long Island’s Hofstra University.
Others were less impressed.
Charlie Gerow, a GOP strategist in Pennsylvania, said people both inside and outside the Trump campaign criticized his lack of “Let’s play two!” Hillary Clinton, quoting baseball legend Ernie Banks, said Tuesday after her debate performance. preparation — a point of pride heading into the debate.
“In the ‘spin rooms’ they’re saying what they had to say, but quietly they were not thrilled,” said Gerow, whose state is vital to Trump’s electoral strategy.
Machado’s insertion into the presidential contest exemplified the candidates’ contrasting approaches to the debate: Clinton calculated and scrupulously prepared. Trump essentially winging it.
The Democratic nominee intended to make Trump’s comments on the issues of weight and per- sonal dignity an issue with two groups she is targeting — women and Latino voters. Trump was caught unawares, asking three times “where did you find t his?” when Clinton brought up Machado.
Before the debate ended, the Clinton campaign had produced a bilingual video recounting Machado’s experience with Trump, including an eating disorder she said resulted from her humiliation.
Reversing his initial assessment of the moderator, Trump on Tuesday also criticized NBC’s Lester Holt, suggesting he unfairly asked too many harsh questions while leaving Clinton unscathed. And Trump claimed there was something wrong with his microphone, which amplified his frequent sniffles.
“My microphone was terrible,” Trump said in the Fox telephone interview. “I wonder: Was it set up that way on purpose?”
By contrast, Clinton was greeted by applauding staffers as she stepped onto her chartered jet Tuesday for a flight to North Carolina. The good cheer continued when reporters asked about the debate.
“Let’s play two!” she said, quoting the famously exuberant baseball legend Ernie Banks, as she expressed her eagerness for the next debate.
Later, at a community college rally in Raleigh, Clinton picked up on Trump’s remark in the debate that he was “smart” to avoid paying federal income taxes in years he could.
“He actually bragged about gaming the system,” Clinton said. “And this is a man who goes around calling our military a disaster. Who goes around criticizing every institution, from health care to education, our vets. But he probably hasn’t paid a penny to support our troops, or our vets, or our schools, or our health care systems.”
Trump has not released his tax returns.