By Evelyn Dole
Over 80 million people watched Republican nominee Donald Trump duke it out with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the first debate of the 2016 presidential race. Voters were hoping the discussion that would ensue between the two nominees about achieving prosperity, America’s direction and securing America would help in their decision-making on Nov. 8, 2016 . . . but that was not meant to be.
If anything, the first of three presidential debates drove an even deeper wedge between those who vehemently support Trump and those who stand behind Clinton and left everyone in the middle scratching their heads in continuous indecision.
The most recent presidential polls suggest this is a very close race in which Clinton sits at 45 percent with an Upshot forecast of 70 percent chance of winning the presidency whereas Trump sits at 42 percent. A tense debate was to be expected.
Trump, an alpha-male businessman, arrived at Hofstra University in New York ready to freewheel his way through the debate against overly-prepared Clinton. Trump’s strongest points came early in the debate when he slammed Clinton for her support of free trade agreements that have cost Americans their jobs and her status as a political insider. Eyder Peralta of NPR said, “Trump was vintage: a visceral debater who touted his business acumen and accused Clinton of being a professional politician— ‘all talk and no action.’” Trump’s illumination of Clinton’s lack of successful policy changes over her last 30 years in politics struck a deep chord with many Americans who are sick of seeing “professional politicians” talk up American voters only to win office and recede on their plans.
But Trump’s lack of preparedness was glaringly obvious when issues regarding race and women’s equality were brought up. According to Alex Burns and Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times, Clinton successfully portrayed Trump as an enemy of the working class people. Unfortunately for Trump, the only groups of criminals whom he called out by name (i.e. ethnicity) were Hispanics and African Americans. Trump only made things worse for himself when he repeatedly advocated for the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk procedure and exclaimed, “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell. You walk down the streets, you get shot.”
Burns explained that Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major party, commanded the direction of the debate and kept a level tone while wielding one-liners. In her first two minutes, Clinton addressed her desires to increase minimum wage and equal pay for women — these issues have proven to be extremely important for many voters.
Clinton’s understanding of these issues allowed her to control the narrative, especially in the second-half of the debate. Exact numbers relating to income tax and other issues from the night made Clinton look more professional and presidential.
Trump reverted to shouting, interrupting and sniffling in an attempt to over-power Clinton’s preparedness. But Clinton was just too much for Trump’s usual name-calling and crazy remarks. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post said, “She was, unsurprisingly, very well prepared — using a slew of facts and figures to not only make her positive case but also to slam Trump.”
The night’s mic-drop moment came when Clinton exclaimed, “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.” The argument that Clinton seemed more presidential was glaringly obvious and well-executed in this one-liner that will be remembered as a highlight of the night.
Oct. 9, 2016 is the next presidential debate and this time the voters will somewhat be able to lead the debate because, according to The Atlantic, the networks producing the town-hall style debate have agreed to accept questions voted on through the Internet. So, make sure to stay tuned and stay involved because this is your next president, too.