The first presidential debate of this election cycle lived up to its anticipation with plenty of controversy and a record setting audience. Here is my synopsis.
From the beginning, Donald Trump was in full control of whether or not he would win or lose this debate. The first segment where he was able to talk about trade was complete dominance. He called out Hillary’s support of NAFTA which has cause major decreases in manufacturing production and jobs in America. He cited Hillary’s flip flop on the TPP where she initially called it the gold standard then “rejected it” even though if she is elected it will be signed into law. That’s because of special interest control over her. Hillary countered Trump’s momentum by criticizing his lack of transparency by not releasing his tax returns. Trump cited the ongoing audit process and his lawyer’s opinion for not releasing his tax returns. Hillary then audaciously speculates that Trump pays no taxes or owes a bunch of money even though she doesn’t have a clue. She essentially is lying just like Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader, did when he told the American people that Romney doesn’t pay taxes. This was a made up lie that Reid later admitted to committing in the sole interest of winning. This whole argument over tax returns really put Trump on defense which played into Hillary’s favor until he stated the winning line of the night. “I’ll release my tax returns, against my lawyers’ wishes, when you release the 33,000 emails you deleted.” That was the most memorable line of the night according to reporters. The third major segment was on security. Trump talked about how spending 6 trillion in the Middle East on wars is part of the reason the economy is crumbling. He blamed politicians like Clinton who supported the war. He took it a step further by citing how Obama and Clinton withdrew American forces in such a blatant and abrupt way that there was a power vacuum leading to the formation of ISIS. He then went on to say how can we trust Clinton when she has been fighting ISIS her whole life? That was a bit of a blunder by Trump. It would’ve been accurate to say she has been fighting terrorism for 30 years, and in actuality she has been fighting ISIS for decades because they were a sect of Al Qaeda. Clinton’s response was that Trump was actually in favor of the war in Iraq. This was a lie as well. Trump had multiple interviews before and after the invasion saying he was against the war and that we needed to focus on rebuilding our nation. He had an initial interview with Howard Stern saying he was unsure. He later had multiple interviews with Neil Cavuto and Sean Hannity that solidified his stance against the war in Iraq.
There is my take on the candidate’s performance; however that is unfortunately not all that took place in the debate. I can honestly say that the moderator Lestor Holt was biased. The man is a well-known Clinton supporter and he probably did not want to receive the same scrutiny that Matt Lauer did. I believe it had a dramatic impact on the outcome. I rewatched the debate several times to make sure I dissected subtleties as well. A minor thing that I noticed was that the moderator chastised the crowd when they applauded Trump but not when the crowd applauded for Hillary. He interrupted Trump 55 times while only interrupting Clinton 11 times. The fact that when it came to somewhat personal issues instead of policy, Trump was asked 4 hit questions while Clinton was asked 0. Clinton was only asked a follow up to Trump bringing up her email server. The two major examples are Trump’s tax returns and the birther issue on Obama. Lestor seemingly argued repeatedly as a third debater against Trump saying he could still release his tax returns under audit and also tried to pin Trump as the one responsible for the birther issue. To be clear, Hillary’s friend Sydney Blumenthal was the one who started the birther issue in Hillary’s ’08 campaign. Also Trump is not required to go against his lawyers’ wishes and he did in fact release a financial disclosure. So we see these difficult questions for Trump presented, but there were no direct questions from Lester about Hillary’s email scandal, Benghazi, the corrupt pay for play practice between the Clinton foundation and the State department, or any other important issues about Hillary personally. This meant that Trump would’ve had to begin these conversations himself when he shouldn’t have to. He touched on the lies about the email server briefly but Clinton distracted him with Lester Holt’s assistance.
These biases made this debate go from a huge Trump win overall to a stalemate. Trump was able to score many points but the fact that Clinton was able to prevent Trump from destroying her with the moderator’s help granted Clinton an overall win according to the media. Online post debate polls were dramatically in favor of Trump, but the really result of the debate will be seen in the general election and state polls. I do not expect a major shift. I hope the next debate will focus on more important issues such as immigration and refugees than hit questions on Trump.