I doubt many minds were changed in the first presidential debate. Hillary opened with free stuff: $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, lower interest on student loans, and paid maternity leave. Trump countered with tax cuts for repatriation of American dollars held overseas, tough trade negotiations, and spurring American jobs through lowering of trade deficits and penalizing companies that move manufacturing offshore through import taxes.
Hillary beat the same old tired drums, but Trump failed to capitalize on how weak the economy really is and how disastrous our foreign policy has been. One ray of light seemed to shine when Trump said he’d release his tax returns as soon as Hillary turned over the 33,000 emails she deleted. Again, he failed to capitalize on the Clinton Foundation’s fraudulent tax returns. She scored again by highlighting Trump’s business bankruptcies. He might have turned the tables on her and Bill’s self-enrichment at the expense of the Haitian people. He might also have scored points by comparing how she and Bill have gotten rich in what appears to be pay-to-play influence pedaling. But he didn’t.
She implied over and over that he was a racist and misogynist; a charge disproven many times in many ways. She defended as well as could be expected, her disastrous middle-east policies and Iran in particular. Eight years later, she’s still blaming the Bush administration for the rise of ISIS. Trump scored with “law and order” voters and she scored with the “victim culture”. The jury is still out on which of those sub-groups has more votes. Whichever one, at best, it was a split-decision.
Another missed opportunity for Trump involved Hillary bragging about the 120 or so countries she visited and her eleven-hour ordeal testifying before congress. Why Trump did not respond with, “Madam Secretary, as Carly Fiorina once said, “Flying is an activity, not an accomplishment”. And he’d have been served well, concerning her testifying, with a simple retort along these lines; “And so are we back to your deleted emails, or are you referring to the Benghazi fiasco? if not for your foul-ups , you’d not have had to testify.”
When Hillary went after the second amendment, she hypocritically claimed eliminating guns would reduce crime, while at the same time admitting violent crime is down over the last 25 years; a time when gun ownership ballooned to the largest number of gun owners ever. She roughed up “military style weapons” while failing to define what that actually means. She indicted the justice system for racism, while ignoring the clear fact that her husband’s vaunted “crime bill” sentenced crack dealers (more-frequently black) to many times longer sentences than cocaine dealers (more-likely white). But Trump missed the opportunity.
Trump’s opening comments might have been better delivered something like this: “So, as I understand it, your policy will be more free stuff, more taxes, more dividing rich against poor, and black against white and more burdensome regulations on small business? Is that about it? Well, I have a better plan…” then into his economic growth proposals.
He scored some points with his examples of Chicago’s murder rates, but failed to drive home the point by emphasizing her stance on school choice, the decimation of the black family wrought by her husband’s crime bill, or his “Welfare Reform” which separated millions of black men from their families, or through the Democrat bigotry of “low expectations”.
From the cheap seats, Trump could have done better, but Hillary’s incessant reliance on platitudes and name-calling also cost her a clear win.