Debate takeaways: Hillary Clinton digs in and prevails
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