It’s pretty clear who won the first presidential debate: Hillary Clinton. She’s likely to get a bump in the polls for her substantive performance.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, started off calm – he even looked a bit tranquilized – then became unhinged. As soon as he started gesticulating with his hands the gig was up. Trump will blame others – the moderator, the microphone, his sniffles. But the bottom line is he was, and is, totally unprepared to be president.
My prediction: Trump will attempt to back away from the remaining debates.
I watched the debate at Valencia College West Campus as part of an Orlando Sentinel debate watch panel discussion with moderator Paul Owens and fellow panelists Earnest DeLoach, Chris Carmody and Tara Tedrow, all members of the Sentinel’s Central Florida 100. Catch my tweets at @orlandolatino.
In a split-screen television debate, Trump could not hold a poker face. He was fuming. His disdain for Clinton – or perhaps it as having to debate a woman – was on full display as he interrupted and attempted – no, succeeded – in talking over her many times.
Early on in the debate, I tweeted, “Trump does what many men do in conversation with women: interrupt.” Not good.
Most people watched the debate. Not going to rehash it here. But will point out:
• The debate’s race segment was on point because it was not just an aside, as is often the case. Trump doubled down on his support for the unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy. He said he had come to know the African American community for “a little while,” which sounds ridiculous except that it’s probably true for most Americans, who know the black community only “a little” or not at all. Clinton rightly pointed out that “communities need to come together and restore trust” and that police need more training.
• Trump also claimed “blacks and Hispanics are living in hell,” a gross generalization or stereotype he has repeated in the past. Not all blacks and Hispanics live in poor areas. In fact, the black middle class has grown substantially over the past 50 years.
• There was little talk of immigration. Trump didn’t repeat his call for “a wall that Mexico will pay for,” very likely because it doesn’t poll well with Latinos, particularly in Florida, a swing state Trump needs to win.
• Trump painted gangbangers as immigrants. In fact, many immigrant gangbangers have been deported, mostly to their native El Salvador and other Central American countries, causing deep conflict there.
• Trump’s boast that he is smart for not paying taxes will haunt him. It will not earn him points with the middle class, which he professes to support, most of whom don’t get the same tax relief. Clinton’s zinger will resonate: Maybe the country would be better off if Trump paid taxes.
• Why did Trump bring up the temperament issue? That was bad advice and it cleared the way for Clinton to talk about his thin skin. The Orlando Sentinel debate watch party erupted in guffaws when he said that. No doubt, so did the rest of the universe.
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor