From Hempstead, New York –
With six weeks to go until Election Day, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton headed out of Hofstra University Monday night after clashing repeatedly in their first debate of the 2016 election, as the two tried to convince Americans they had the right answers on jobs, economic growth and terrorism.
Was there a winner? Let’s take a quick look at the debate.
1. No knockout, but maybe a slight edge to Clinton – The campaign for President certainly didn’t end by any means here at Hofstra, but there were a number of Republicans who saw a slight edge for Hillary Clinton. Noted GOP political consultant Frank Luntz saw it that way:
“Trump could be crushing Hillary right now if he wasn’t so thin-skinned,” Luntz added.
Others on the Republican side seemed to agree.
Trump though did seem to score repeatedly when he attacked Clinton for being part of the status quo. Look for more on that in coming weeks and at the next two debates.
2. Clinton didn’t exactly run away with it – Even with an advantage in this debate, it was not a Hillary Clinton blowout by any means at Hofstra.
“I don’t think Donald Trump lost any votes tonight, I’m not sure Hillary Clinton gained any votes tonight,” said Bob Schieffer, the former host of ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS, as Schieffer said both candidates sort of played to their own party. Schieffer and others also were quick to remind viewers that Mitt Romney crushed President Obama in the first debate four years ago – but that did not alter the course of the 2012 election. So, even a win on points for Clinton doesn’t mean a dramatic change in this race.
3. No issues with Clinton’s health –After her near collapse on September 11 in New York, some critics of Clinton said a 90 minute debate with the candidates standing at lecterns might showcase troubles for Clinton on her health. But, she didn’t come near a cough or anything, while Trump seemingly sniffled his way through the debate. And of course, with the internet – it quickly became a thing:
Clinton hasn’t done away with red flags about her health, but it was a reminder that the issue won’t be that important if nothing happens. As for Trump, he complained that his debate microphone was defective.
4. Trump backers want a sharper message – While Trump did zero in on Clinton over her experience in government – “she’s been at this for thirty years” – his buzz phrases weren’t as polished on some other items, which led him into several extended debate explanations. “He was just almost flailing,” said Hofstra political scientist Richard Himelfarb, who felt that Trump did not do enough to put Clinton on the defensive during the debate. “When you have to spend a lot of time in any debate explaining your record, explaining why you did something, you lose,” Himelfarb told me in the Spin Room. One GOP lawmaker in Congress who supports Trump agreed:
5. Republicans grumble about moderator – It didn’t take long for some in the GOP to raise questions about the work of Lester Holt from NBC News. “I’m a fan of Lester’s,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), “he didn’t get into Benghazi, he didn’t get into her emails.” Others in the GOP felt like Trump got the short end of the stick as well:
How was this debate scored by the New York tabloids? Definitely against Trump:
There are two more debates – Clinton and Trump will meet next on Sunday October 9 in St. Louis, and then are scheduled for a final debate on Wednesday October 19 in Las Vegas.