De­bate take­aways: Hil­lary Clin­ton digs in and pre­vails

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Local News/analysis - Alexan­der Burns

SOME de­bates seem to trans­form the fun­da­men­tals of a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign. The first clash be­tween Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump was not one of those events.

Rather than shift­ing the lines of the pres­i­den­tial race, this de­bate seems likely to deepen them — bol­ster­ing Mrs Clin­ton’s ad­van­tage on ques­tions of tem­per­a­ment and tol­er­ance, and am­pli­fy­ing Mr Trump’s blus­tery mes­sage of dras­tic change.

But Mrs Clin­ton ap­peared to gain in strength over the course of the de­bate, ul­ti­mately rout­ing Mr Trump in a se­ries of late ex­changes. Here are some of our key take­aways from the night: Clin­ton scored on race, gen­der and se­cu­rity Mrs Clin­ton seems to have bested Mr. Trump in the de­bate largely thanks to her mas­tery of three sub­jects that have de­fined her gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign: race, gen­der and na­tional se­cu­rity.

Break­ing through in an ex­change on race, she bat­tered Mr Trump for push­ing what she called a “racist lie” that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was born out­side the United States. As­sail­ing Mr Trump as sex­ist, Mrs Clin­ton quoted him call­ing women “pigs, slobs and dogs.” And in a back-and-forth on na­tional se­cu­rity, she ac­cused him re­peat­edly of risk­ing “an­other war” with his hot tem­per, and said he could not be trusted with nu­clear weapons.

Mr Trump strug­gled to an­swer the sub­stance of Mrs Clin­ton’s crit­i­cism, and of­ten ap­peared thrown by her at­tacks. His re­sponse on na­tional se­cu­rity con­sisted largely of name-check­ing var­i­ous global prob­lem ar­eas, like the Is­lamic State and Iran, with­out of­fer­ing a pointed cri­tique or al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion. Trump is stronger as the out­sider In an un­even and at times flail­ing de­bate per­for­mance, Mr Trump had a few mo­ments of strength: He was at his best when he was bring­ing the fight to Mrs Clin­ton on trade pol­icy and her sta­tus as a po­lit­i­cal in­sider, and de­liv­er­ing blunt calls for whole­sale up­heaval in Wash­ing­ton.

Mr Trump ham­mered Mrs Clin­ton early on as an avatar of the sta­tus quo. “She’s been do­ing this for 30 years,” Mr Trump said re­peat­edly. Later, he charged: “Our coun­try is suf­fer­ing be­cause peo­ple like Sec­re­tary Clin­ton have made such bad de­ci­sions.”

But what Mr Trump has not yet done is con­vince most Amer­i­cans that he is the right al­ter­na­tive to a bro­ken po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, and it’s not likely he ac­com­plished that on Mon­day. A clash of styles and per­son­al­i­ties He shouted, in­ter­rupted and sniffed. She kept a level tone and wielded pre­fab one-lin­ers. For all the pol­icy dis­putes be­tween Mr Trump and Mrs Clin­ton, it may be the vast dif­fer­ence in their per­son­al­i­ties that leaves a deeper im­pres­sion on vot­ers. Mr Trump, who dodged pol­icy de­tails, bad­gered Mrs Clin­ton as he did his Repub­li­can pri­mary op­po­nents, cut­ting in to mock and con­test her claims. He talked over Lester Holt, the mod­er­a­tor — a per­for­mance likely to re­in­force his ap­peal to fans, but un­likely to dis­patch doubts about his tem­per­a­ment.

Mrs Clin­ton was far more re­strained: She de­clined to match Mr Trump’s vol­ume when he yelled over her, and sev­eral times pointed view­ers to the in­ter­net for factcheck­ing pur­poses, rather than go­ing af­ter Mr Trump’s mis­state­ments her­self.

No­tably, for a can­di­date who has strained to con­nect with vot­ers on a gut level, Mrs Clin­ton re­peat­edly in­voked her fa­ther and grand­daugh­ter, in what seemed like an ef­fort to cast her views in a more per­sonal light. Trump de­fied the facts again Mr Trump has faced in­ten­si­fy­ing scru­tiny in re­cent weeks for his prac­tice of spread­ing in­cor­rect or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion. But he was un­de­terred on Mon­day evening and again ped­dled false claims, in­clud­ing some of his most thor­oughly de­bunked fa­bles.

In his lead­off an­swer, Mr Trump warned that Ford was plan­ning to slash thou­sands of Amer­i­can jobs to re­lo­cate small-car pro­duc­tion to Mex­ico – a claim the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive has de­nied. Mr Trump in­sisted that he had not called global warm­ing a hoax per­pe­trated by China, though he has said pre­cisely that on Twit­ter. And Mr Trump re­peated nu­mer­ous times that he was against the war in Iraq from the start, which is plainly con­trary to the facts.

Mr Holt, the staid NBC an­chor mod­er­at­ing the de­bate, stepped in at one point to ob­serve that Mr Trump had not orig­i­nally op­posed the war. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, Mrs Clin­ton al­lowed sev­eral of Mr Trump’s claims to go un­chal­lenged in their specifics. The bells that didn’t ring There were a few glar­ing omis­sions from the list of is­sues cov­ered in the de­bate – in­clud­ing, re­mark­ably, the defin­ing is­sue of Mr Trump’s can­di­dacy.

Im­mi­gra­tion did not come up even once. Mr Trump didn’t raise it, and nei­ther Mrs Clin­ton nor Mr Holt chal­lenged him on the sub­ject. While Mrs Clin­ton crit­i­cised Mr Trump for de­mon­is­ing Mus­lims, nei­ther she nor any­one else men­tioned a sig­na­ture Trump pro­posal from the Repub­li­can pri­maries, to ban all Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion to the United States.

And in an over­sight that would have been un­think­able for any con­ven­tional Repub­li­can can­di­date, Mr Trump did not even men­tion the Af­ford­able Care Act or the word “Oba­macare,” ef­fec­tively ig­nor­ing the defin­ing con­cern of the Obama-era Repub­li­can Party. –New York Times

Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton

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