I have to admit, I was nervous for this debate. Sitting on my couch with my family miles away from the action and I got the jitters that sometimes attack me before a championship (side note, I’m a competitive swimmer). I was afraid at what Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump might say and that he might try to bully Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton into silence by yelling. I was afraid she might seize up and come across as robotic. I really hoped moderator Lester Holt would have a running fact-checker going at all times.
So it began. Clinton got the first question about achieving prosperity in America. She talked about economic policy, about her plans to raise taxes on the wealthy and how she would raise the national minimum wage. She was fair-spoken and clear. She came across as confident and ready to tackle the issues that face America. Trump, to give him all due credit, did sound more composed at the beginning, and talked about lowering taxes, and stopping the outsourcing of jobs to China. He kept his cool and talked about the issues he supported. He was less specific than Clinton on policy, but much more detailed than his average speech.
Then Clinton was given her first response. It was clear from her language that she was on the attack. Going after Trump’s “modest” origins and the gaping holes in his tax plans, she clearly meant to be on the offensive. And it worked. Each of his responses was more choppy, and he seemed nettled. As a man standing on the stage trying to defend his temperament, he did not do a good job. While Clinton attacked and attacked, all while adding details to her own plans for the future, Trump shouted “wrong” and “no true” into the microphone. The resulting effect was that of one candidate in control of the situation while the other candidate acted petulant and premature. So unprepared and incorrect was Trump that the debate was reminiscent of one student proudly turning in an assignment while another stammers out incoherent excuses for not having it. Trump was so far on the defensive, he forgot to capitalize on his attacks on Clinton such as her emails and her comments on deplorables, instead, he actually brought up the topic of his tax returns without prompt. Meanwhile Clinton brought his worst attributes out and dared him to defend them.
As time passed on, it became clear that Clinton had gotten under Trump’s skin. Near the end he resorted to rude remarks about Rosie O’Donnell and had no defense to his offensive statements to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. And to prove even more that he was nettled and unhinged by Clinton’s attacks, he decided to proceed with the very mature and presidential 3:00 AM tweet attack. So as the next few days unfolded it became even clearer that Clinton won and that the majority of people do not think that Trump has a “winning temperament.”
I’m happy. She dominated the debate. As nervous as I had felt before, I felt elated when she had finished. It felt like a long and successful race was finished and the next was just about to begin.