Trump blames ev­ery­one but him­self

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

HEMPSTEAD — Don­ald Trump blamed the mod­er­a­tor, a bad mi­cro­phone and any­one but him­self yes­ter­day af­ter he was forced onto the de­fence by Hil­lary Clin­ton's cas­cade of at­tacks about his taxes, hon­esty and char­ac­ter in the first pres­i­den­tial de­bate.

Trump tried ag­gres­sively to pin Amer­ica's prob­lems on Clin­ton at Mon­day night's de­bate. But Clin­ton, show­ing her in­ten­sive prepa­ra­tions, went af­ter him as hard or harder, in­clud­ing sharp crit­i­cism of his busi­ness prac­tices and crude com­ments about women.

She also at­tacked his false as­ser­tions about Pres­i­dent Barack Obama's birth­place, call­ing it part of a pat­tern of "racist be­hav­iour". And she re­peat­edly crit­i­cised Trump for break­ing tra­di­tion by re­fus­ing to re­lease his tax re­turns, declar­ing, "There's some­thing he's hid­ing." Still, Trump in­sisted on Tues­day he'd got the bet­ter of Clin­ton, award­ing her a C-plus while de­clin­ing to as­sign him­self a grade. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Clin­ton's aides and run­ning mate took to tele­vi­sion to ar­gue she'd ac­com­plished pre­cisely what she'd set out to do. Both cam­paigns knew the highly an­tic­i­pated first de­bate could mark a turn­ing point six weeks be­fore Elec­tion Day, but it was un­clear if ei­ther can­di­date would reap sig­nif­i­cant gains. Trump and Clin­ton are locked in an ex­ceed­ingly close race and c omp e t i n g vig­or­ously to win over un­de­cided vot­ers. Clin­ton ' s pr e f e r r e d tac­tic — pro­vok­ing Trump with jabs aimed at rat­tling him — con­tin­ued to pay dividends the day af­ter the de­bate. Af­ter brush­ing off Clin­ton's claim that he'd once shamed a for­mer Miss Uni­verse win­ner for her weight, Trump on Tues­day dug deeper.

"She gained a mas­sive amount of weight. It was a real prob­lem. We had a real prob­lem," Trump told Fox and Friends about the 1996 win­ner of the pageant he once owned.

Though he said on Twit­ter he had "re­ally en­joyed" the de­bate, he ac­cused mod­er­a­tor Lester Holt of a left-lean­ing per­for­mance and go­ing harder on him than Clin­ton. He in­sisted he had "no snif­fles" and no al­ler­gies de­spite the #snif­fle­gate spec­u­la­tion that had ex­ploded on so­cial me­dia.

And in one of the more bizarre mo­ments in pres­i­den­tial de­bate his­tory, he floated the pos­si­bil­ity that or­gan­is­ers had in­ten­tion­ally set his "ter­ri­ble" mi­cro­phone to a lower vol­ume than Clin­ton's. Trump said he "didn't want to be­lieve in con­spir­acy the­o­ries" but pushed the the­ory any­way that it was "set up that way on pur­pose".

"Any­body who's about the mi­cro­phone is not hav­ing a good night," a sar­donic Clin­ton told re­porters on her plane as she flew midday on Tues­day to North Carolina. She ac­cused Trump of mak­ing "demon­stra­bly un­true" claims in the de­bate.

With pre­cious few weeks left to cam­paign, both can­di­dates re­turned promptly to the trail. North Carolina and Florida, where Trump was cam­paign­ing, are both among a hand­ful of toss-up states whose win­ners could help de­ter­mine the out­come of the elec­tion.

The de­bate was con­fronta­tional from the start, with Trump fre­quently try­ing to in­ter­rupt Clin­ton and speak­ing over her an­swers. Clin­ton was more mea­sured and re­strained, of­ten smil­ing through his an­swers, wellaware of the tele­vi­sion cam­eras cap­tur­ing her re­ac­tion.

"Hil­lary told the truth and Don­ald told some whop­pers," Clin­ton's run­ning mate, Tim Kaine, told ABC News.

Trump has said he can't re­lease his tax re­turns be­cause he is be­ing au­dited, though tax ex­perts have said an au­dit is no bar­rier to mak­ing the in­for­ma­tion pub­lic. When Clin­ton sug­gested his re­fusal might be be­cause he pos­si­bly paid noth­ing in fed­eral taxes, he in­ter­rupted to say, "That makes me smart."

Trump's crit­i­cism of Clin­ton turned per­sonal in the de­bate's clos­ing mo­ments. He said, "She doesn't have the look, she doesn't have the stamina" to be pres­i­dent. He's made sim­i­lar com­ments in pre­vi­ous events, spark­ing out­rage from Clin­ton back­ers who ac­cused him of a sex­ist at­tack on the first woman nom­i­nated for pres­i­dent by a ma­jor US po­lit­i­cal party.

The cen­tre­piece of Trump's case against Clin­ton is that the for­mer sen­a­tor and sec­re­tary of state is lit­tle more than a ca­reer politi­cian who has squan­dered op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­dress the do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional prob­lems she's now pledg­ing to tackle as pres­i­dent.

"She's got ex­pe­ri­ence," he said, "but it's bad ex­pe­ri­ence."

When Trump made a crack about Clin­ton tak­ing time off the cam­paign trail to pre­pare for the de­bate, she turned it into a val­i­da­tion of her readi­ness for the White House.

"I think Don­ald just crit­i­cised me for pre­par­ing for this de­bate," Clin­ton said. "And, yes, I did. And you know what else I pre­pared for? I pre­pared to be pres­i­dent. And I think that's a good thing." — AP.

Don­ald Trump

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