Debating how Clinton and Trump fared
Neither candidate offered anything new on policy or personality; we got pretty much what we expected.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump squared Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in the first presidential debate of 2016. The 90-minute event was moderated by NBC news anchor Lester Holt. The second presidential debate will be Sunday, Oct. 9, and the final debate is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 19.
If you watched Monday night’s debate simply because of the “I-don’t-wantto-look-but-I-can’t-take-myeyes-off-of-it-factor,” you were probably disappointed.
Hillary Clinton didn’t faint or have a coughing spell— indeed, it was Donald Trump who seemed to have a case of the sniffles — and Trump didn’t burst a blood vessel or make any major gaffes.
Neither candidate offered anything new on policy or personality; we got pretty much what we expected. If you already were entrenched in one camp or another, Monday night won’t make a difference.
But if you’re still undecided, yours is the evaluation that matters.
That’s where Clinton wins. And you can make the case that it wasn’t as much what she did as what Trump didn’t do. Notably, when asked by Lester Holt how the U.S. should fight cyberattacks, Trump failed to use that opportunity to ding Clinton on her use of private email servers when she was secretary of state.
Even the most loyal Trump supporters can’t argue that Trump did a thing to persuade suburban, college-educated women to vote for him.
Trump had a strong first 30 minutes, talking about trade and the deficit. If Trump has a wheelhouse, that’s it.
But then he began to unravel. Kids, there’s a lesson for you in this: Do your homework.
Because you might be able to bluster your way through the first few minutes of an oral report, but if you can’t finish strong, or if your teacher peppers you with questions, you’re going to flail— and be graded accordingly.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group Monday night with undecided Pennsylvania voters. On Monday night, 16 people in Luntz’s focus group concluded that Clinton won the debate; six people called it for Trump. “Tax question weakened him, birther question destroyed him,” Luntz tweeted.
While it’s uncertain whether Clinton moved the needle with the millennials she’ll need Nov. 8, this seems clearer: Trump did not help his cause with suburban women when, after the debate, he praised himself for not raising the subject of Bill Clinton’s infidelity. (He said he restrained himself because Chelsea Clinton— a friend of his daughter Ivanka — was in the audience.)
Similarly, he didn’t help himself with minority voters by insisting during the debate that the way to heal the racial divide was through “law and order.” He also lauded the practice of stopand-frisk in New York City.
Clinton effectively skewered Trump on the question of his tax returns. She floated several theories for his failure to release them — among them the possibility that he has paid zero in federal income taxes over the years.
He said not paying taxes “makes me smart.”
She persisted: “If he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.”
Luntz noted that even the Trump-leaning Pennsylvanians in his focus group want to see Trump’s tax returns.
Every presidential nominee since Richard Nixon— save for Gerald Ford, who released only summary data — has released his tax returns. Trump should, too.
On Monday night, Trump insisted that he had a “winning temperament.”
He didn’t exhibit it Tuesday. He told the hosts of “Fox & Friends” that Holt went harder on him than on Clinton.
There were topics Holt didn’t get to (Benghazi, immigration and the Clinton Foundation immediately come to mind), but remember, we have two more presidential debates to go.
Heaven help us.