It will take a day or two to get an accurate picture of how the American voter viewed the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The media will be quick with its spin, but at the end of the day, the only opinions that really matter are those of the voter. In the meantime, supporters of both candidates are doing their best to spin the debate in a way that makes their candidate look good.
No new ground
Both candidates made an opening statement that did not break any new ground. Neither candidate showed any sign of being afraid of the other. Trump’s demeanor was similar to what it was in the Republican debates. He was aggressive in talking over both Clinton and moderator Lester Holt. Hillary Clinton looked calm and at times appeared passive or bemused.
Clinton attacked Trump on his business dealings. She claimed that Trump had “stiffed” contractors and noted his multiple business bankruptcies. Trump responded by criticizing Mrs. Clinton’s positions on trade deals. Clinton challenged Trump to release his tax returns; Trump said he would as soon as Clinton released her 33,000 missing emails.
Racial strife vs. law and order
The debate then shifted to racial strife in the country. Clinton said the country needs to address the “systematic racism in our criminal justice system.” Trump responded by saying that the issue is law and order, not racism.
Trump and Clinton both agreed that people on federal watch lists, such as the ‘Do Not Fly’ list should not be allowed to have guns. For Trump, this represents a break from the NRA’s position. Trump defended the stop and frisk policies of New York City and repeated his position that it should become a national policy. Clinton replied that ‘stop and frisk’ was ruled unconstitutional.
Clinton says Trump pushes racist lies
During a discussion of the ‘birther’ controversy, Clinton stated that Trump “pushes racist lies.”Trump responded by claiming that Clinton’s previous campaign manager was the one who raised the ‘birther’ issue. Clinton brings up several racial rent discrimination suits brought against Trump early in his early business career.
The debate shifted to national security. Clinton claimed that Trump is doing the bidding of Russian premier Vladimir Putin and repeated her claim that the Russians are behind the hacked emails of the DNC and others. Trump responded that there’s no actual proof that it was Russia that has hacked the emails and pivoted to the issue that the DNC hacked emails showed that the DNC favored Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Trump claims Obama-Clinton policies created ISIS
The discussion switched to ISIS. Trump brought up that the policies of President Obama and Secretary Clinton over the past eight years have allowed ISIS to gain power. Trump asked why the U.S. is still engaged in a war in Iraq. Clinton attacked Trump’s claim that he was always opposed to the war.
Trump goes off on a long rant about whether or not he supported the war in Iraq and blamed the media for distorting his position. While this was going on, Hillary Clinton had a pleased smile on her face as she listened to Trump dig himself into a hole by attempting to fight the media.
Trump says that the biggest problem facing America today is nuclear armament, not global warming and said that Russia had surpassed the U.S. in nuclear capability. Clinton attacked Trump’s position on NATO and Trump responded that he believes that all NATO countries should pay their fair share. Clinton defends the deal with Iran. Trump says the U.S. cannot be the policeman of the world.
Both candidates asked if they will accept results
The final question was if both candidates will accept the results of the election as the will of the voters. Both stated that if the other wins they will accept the outcome and support the new President.
So who won the debate tonight? If you check out the Drudge Report, you’ll see that 93% of those voting think Trump won, but that’s hardly an unbiased reader group. A bit more interesting was a quick poll on New Jersey.com which had Trump ahead by 53% to 41% and a Las Vegas Sun poll that also gave Trump the edge by a 70% to 30% margin. However, instant online polls are often suspect and later proven inaccurate. There will be some more scientific polls out in the next few days that will give a more accurate picture of how the public viewed the debate.