WASHINGTON, September 27, 2016 – The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was a lesson in preparation and composure.
After almost a year of shadow boxing, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton finally came face-to-face. The lead-up to the showdown was full of comparisons between the wonky Clinton, who was preparing madly with research and mock debates, and the more flamboyant Trump who said he was neither nervous, nor over-preparing for the discussion.
The first debate showed voters who was the most composed candidate is, at least in a debate setting.
During the debate, Clinton appeared composed while Trump’s body language suggested that he is thin-skinned. Clinton smilingly took on Trump, using his own words against him, while Trump grimaced.
Trump interrupted Clinton several times during the evening, which Clinton essentially ignored while she continued her statements. He appeared less prepared, and faltered during some specific substance issues. Trump’s best moments came when discussing trade, a subject he is well-versed on.
Overall, Trump’s performance reflected his decision not to hold routine debate prep before the showdown came.
Clinton on the other hand, showed she spent hours studying the issues and the ways Trump might respond to her, resulting in a calm and structured performance.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) September 27, 2016
Trump has a reputation as the candidate who fires back against criticism, but alst night, it was Clinton who delivered strong attacks against her Republican rival. Clinton attacked when Trump left himself vulnerable.
In one exchange, Clinton attacked Trump over his refusal to release his tax records. Trump responded, as he has done in the past, that he will release those records after the IRS completes a routine audit. He then went further, and said he would release them immediate, if Clinton released the 30,000 emails that were deleted from her private email server.
Trump also essentially admitted he paid virtually no federal income tax, despite saying he earned more than $600 million. He defended that point by saying it is because he is a smart businessman.
— CNN (@CNN) September 27, 2016
Donald Trump failed to attack Clinton on the 2012 Benghazi attacks or the Clinton Foundation donors’ relationship with the State Department. He barely mentioned her use of a private email server. Post-debate, Trump campaign aides said they would increase criticism of Clinton over her use of the private email server, Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation in upcoming debates.
Republicans apparently are now concerned about the impact of Trump’s performance on voters, and about how he will fare in future debates. Trump aide and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has suggested that Trump not attend the remaining debates.
“If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker,” Giuliani said. “The moderator would have to promise that there would be a moderator and not a fact checker and in two particular cases an enormously ignorant, completely misinformed fact checker.”
Last night’s debate was the first of three, and came as Clinton and Trump are neck-in-neck polling numbers.
The next scheduled presidential debate is October 9th and will be moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for next week and moderated by CBS’ Elaine Quijano.