Donald Trump got off to a great start during Monday night’s debate, his first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton. But his performance wasn’t without bumps. So, did Trump appear like a legitimate candidate tonight? And did Hillary maintain her status as a policy wonk who knows her stuff ? Was she able to fend off claims that she is shrill? And what of the moderator? Was Lester Holt a moderator, or was he a third debater and on Hilary’s side, at that?
This was a very historic debate, certainly. Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate from a major party, met Donald Trump, one of the first political neophytes and businessmen to gain the nomination of a major party, are engaged in an election that for many is about all the marbles.
Many, both left and right, feel that if their candidate doesn’t win it will be a catastrophe for the nation. While Democrats feel that if Trump wins they may end up in the political wilderness for decades, Republicans are equally sure that if Hillary wins she will finish the destruction of the nation started by Barack Obama.
What ever might happen in the months to come, this, the first of three debates, did not end Trump’s campaign. He held his own well enough against Hillary’s wonky demeanor, and was able to stand toe-to-toe with her for the entire 90-minute debate. He also didn’t commit any major gaffes and pulled the reins back on the sort of extreme combativeness we saw from him during his primary debates. But Trump missed a lot of opportunities and seemed on the defensive throughout.
While he was still forceful and in places combative, Trump was able to successfully slam home one message. His main line of attack during the night was that Hillary has spent 30 years in government leading this nation with the polices she advocated tonight, yet this nation is failing and our world is more dangerous than ever.
Donald Trump wondered aloud how all her wonderful plans would change anything that she hasn’t been able to change in her 20 years in power?
In the end, though, Trump did not hurt himself in this debate, something that will surely discourage liberals supporting Hillary. It is doubtful that Trump lost any supporters even as he may not have picked up any new acolytes.
As to Hillary, she didn’t get shrill and even once or twice seemed to respond like a real human might. She seemed in command of her ideas and generally kept an even tone.
In the final analysis, though, this outing should likely be scored as something of a tie and in that case the challenger might be awarded a bit of a win. After all, this was Trump’s first one-on-one presidential debate against a candidate who has been in a dozen of them over two presidential campaigns yet he was able to keep he head about him and say mostly on track with only a few instances where he got bogged down. He’ll likely get even better at this over the next two outings.
As to moderator Holt, it was clear he bowed to pressure from his pals on the left to become the third candidate on the stage. He constantly interrupted Trump and was clearly on Hillary’s side throughout the night. By contrast he almost never interrupted Hillary.
The night started with moderator Lester Holt opening the debate with questions on the economy.
Like a Democrat does, Hillary essentially answered to the question of how she would fix this nation’s faltering economy by unloading yet another laundry list of big government programs. In fact, her entire appeal seemed to be fully centered on Democrat tactics of the 1990s.
Hillary insisted that her tax plan would help small businesses create jobs. And yet, she made this claim only days after releasing her confiscatory estate tax plan that critics say would make sure no family farm or small business could ever be passed down from parent to child because her tax rate is so high that families would have to sell those businesses and farms to pay her 65 percent taxes hit. This sort of uncertainty is not a builder of small business. It is a destroyer of them.
When Holt turned to Trump, the GOP candidate went into his familiar “America doesn’t win any more” talking points and added that his tax cut plan would be the biggest since Ronald Reagan’s and would send the economy booming again.
Incidentally, this is precisely what Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, did in the mid 1990s to reverse the economic disaster he set in motion with his own disastrous tax hike. When he first came to office, Bill bowed to the left of his party and raised taxes but after his party was wiped out in the 1994 midterm elections because the economy was sinking under his policies he abruptly changed direction, lowered taxes, and helped bring back national prosperity. This is a lesson Hillary obviously has not learned if her high tax policy is any indication.
In any case, Trump hit over and over on his claim that we need to stop American jobs and businesses from fleeing the country and noted that Hillary’s policies are little different than Obama’s and that she would not be able to stop jobs from leaving America.
Incidentally, the segment was another example of Lester Holt joining team Hillary as he insisted calling Trump’s tax plan “tax cuts for the wealthy” when in fact his plan would cut taxes for 60 percent of U.S. households.
In response, Hillary threw out one of her catch phrases calling Trump’s policy “Trumped up trickle down,” in a tactic again reminiscent of tired old 1990s liberal talking points. The Democrat nominee also claimed that her massive tax hike would create 10 million jobs, a claim that is hard to fathom.
Sadly Trump missed the opportunity to note that this is the same lie Obama used when he took office and his reputation as a jobs creator is dismal, indeed. Trump could have pointed out how Hillary’s nonsense is just like Obama’s and we have a sluggish economy with millions out of work as a result.
Another tactic Hillary employed early and often throughout the debate was to urge the media to “fact check” Trump. This is just a continuation of her coordination with the same media that put out a slew of Trump hit pieces three days before the debate.
Trump went on to hit Hillary on the NAFTA and TPP trade polices as he has been doing for months, now. What ever you feel about NAFTA, Hillary did not mount a very effective response to Trump’s accusation and indeed she used a false claim against Trump as she did so.
Hillary insisted that Trump cheered the housing crisis when people were losing their homes late in the 2000s. Hillary has uttered this lie many times, but even CNN noted that the claim is not true. Trump did not celebrate people losing their homes.
The issue of Trump’s tax returns next came up but Trump got the better of Hillary with the question and got the crowd to break its pledge of silence at the same time.
When the partisan Holt asked Trump if he’ll release his tax returns, he replied, “I’ll release my tax returns when she releases her 33,000 emails that she deleted.”
The crowd erupted in cheers but were then scolded by Holt for breaking the silence pledge.
Hillary’s only real response was to Harry Reid-like claim that Trump doesn’t want to release his taxes because he has never paid any federal taxes at all. However her attack line on Trump has been proven incorrect even by the so-called “fact checkers” she kept trying to press into service to go after Trump.
Fact check site Politifact has said Hillary’s claim that Trump paid no taxes is “mostly false.”
Trump also made some great points when he noted that the U.S.A. is a “serious debtor nation” with an infrastructure that is falling apart and the nation needs a new leader who “has an idea about money.”
Moderator Holt then moved onto the the racial divide and in her answer Hillary insisted that America’s police are racists who need re-education. In her opinion, our police are “implicitly biased” against blacks.
Trump then reminded America that it was Hillary who said that blacks were “super predators,” a statement she later had to apologize for.
But Trump hit a bad spot when asked to once again respond to his former birtherism. Trump rambled and was not able to successfully reply to the issue on stage.
Hillary made herself look petty, though. when she called Trump’s birtherism a “racist lie.” Whatever you believe about where Obama was born, the issue has nothing to do with his race. It has to do with his citizenship.
That wasn’t the end of Hillary’s name calling. She later directly called Trump a racist, as well, for his words against the importation of Muslim terrorists. Hillary also said Trump is anti-woman despite the fact that Trump employs more women in high positions than most big New York companies.
The attacks gave Trump a good opening to reiterate that Hillary has spend hundreds of millions of campaign dollars on vicious attack ads on TV, yet despite the expenditure, the two candidates are virtually tied in the polls.
The lie about Trump being a racist was far from the only lie Clinton told this night. Clinton also disgorged a series of other lies during the debate.
In one case Hillary insisted that when she became Obama’s Secretary of State Iran was “weeks away” from having a nuclear bomb. But in truth there is no intelligence estimate from any country that supports her claim.
Clinton also insisted she was against the Trans Pacific Trade agreement in its early stages. But in fact, Hillary called the TPP scheme the “gold standard” of trade agreements and was a major supporter of the plan.
So, what did we end up with last night? As noted above, the night was more or less a tie. No one who supports either candidate would have been swayed to abandon their support. Neither came away with any knock out blows and both held their own. We move on to round two wondering if we may yet see something that might become a game changer.
But the immediate post debate period was interesting in that it showed what sort of candidate Trump really is. As is usual for a presidential candidate after a debate, Hillary Clinton disappeared after waving to supporters. But Trump made himself available to the media right away. Trump’s talking to Sean Hannity and other members of the media as he exited the stage marks a first for a presidential candidate and it only goes to highlight the fact that Hillary went well over 200 days before speaking to the media while Trump has made himself available the whole campaign.
So, what did you think of the debate? Tell us in the comments below.