The first presidential debate is over and it lived up to the hype. Before delving into the issues, were the candidates trying to confuse everyone? Hillary comes out in an all-red pant suit and Donald Trump comes out wearing a blue tie. Then Donald Trump apparently forgets what to call Hillary? “…Secretary…Clinton? Is that okay? I want you to be happy with me.” So Trump is wanting credit for calling her Secretary Clinton? What was he planning to call her?
As far as the debate goes, the best part of the debate is the change in the rules to actually allow candidates to go back and forth, debating with one another personally. This really gave the candidates a chance to debate the issues…and gave Donald Trump an opportunity to utilize his debate strategy.
Rather than trying to give a detailed explanation of his views and plans, Trump’s clear plan was to yell, interrupt, and try to get Hillary Clinton to break away from her talking points. In that sense, he was successful. Hillary came out solid, delivering crisp, well-rehearsed responses. Then the Donald began interrupting her. She began stopping her responses to respond to his comments. He also did an outstanding job of placing the blame for every problem on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He even—somehow—blamed Hillary for us spending $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East. How did Hillary and Lester Holt just let that one go by without a single response? Hillary joked that by the end of the night she felt like she would probably be blamed for every problem we’ve had in the world and Trump chimed in “why not?”
One of the most heated topics was when discussing race relations. Trump talked about ways to improve race relations and ways to stop the deaths in inner-city communities like Chicago and called for a possible implementation of stop and frisk, which was first used in New York City. When both Lester Holt and Hillary Clinton mention that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional, Trump told them both they were wrong. I’m sure he would tell the fact checkers they were wrong, and would tell the judge who ruled it unconstitutional wrong as well.
When discussing free trade, Donald Trump talked about bringing manufacturing jobs back but when pressed about how we would bring them back he couldn’t answer. That’s mainly because the manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas where workers can work for pennies on the dollar can’t be brought back. Rather than trying to bring back those jobs, we should be investing in new types of jobs, like clean energy. Hillary Clinton made it a point to call for investments to be made in clean energy while Trump argued that we can’t afford to make those investments with our current debt.
Hillary, for the most part, did a good job at staying on message and getting Donald Trump to take the bait on several issues, like support for the war in Iraq. She also pressed Donald on not releasing his tax returns and argued that he’s hiding something and it could be that he isn’t paying any taxes at all. She talks about how him not paying taxes means no money for troops, for healthcare, or for veterans. Trump took the bait about not paying taxes and simply responded with “that makes me a smart man” about not paying taxes. A little later when Trump said that our debt was squandered, Hillary said if people like him would pay taxes they’d have money and Trump again chimed in “that’d be squandered too.” It’s like he’s basically conceding to the fact. Finally, Hillary delivered the line of the night when Trump made fun of her preparing for the debate: “I think Donald Trump just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I’ve prepared to be president.”
Clinton clearly looked calm, calculated, and prepared while Trump came off as rattled. I didn’t expect Trump to do very well with this debate but I’m a little surprised at how poorly he actually did. Regardless, I can’t wait for round two.