By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
Last night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took the stage in the first debate of the 2016 general election. The entire 90 minutes was essentially taking a RC Car to a Nascar race–it was clear Donald Trump simply couldn’t compete on a national stage.
Where Hillary Clinton was poised and prepared to defend her actions and positions, Donald Trump looked lost, became unwound and resorted to yelling and ad hominem attacks when his past missteps and ill-conceived policies came under attack.
One candidate knew what she was talking about; the other was Donald Trump.
Of course critics are saying Clinton was too scripted and the frequency of her blinking was a sign of some disqualifying illness (I checked WebMD- it’s not). The truth is that she came prepared and ready to take her spot as the next Commander-in-Chief.
If you were brave enough to take your TV off mute and actually listen to the candidates’ positions, their ideas for our country couldn’t be further apart.
When Trump was asked about rooting for the housing crisis that cost millions of families their homes, he called it “good for business,” and when Clinton accused him of failing to pay federal income taxes, he called it “smart.” But for too many families around this country, the housing crisis cost them everything and failing to pay federal taxes means jail time.
And when Trump was asked about how to mend race relations and restore balance between communities of color and law enforcement, Trump pushed for a nationwide “stop and frisk” policy, even while both Clinton and Lester Holt reminded him these policies were ruled unconstitutional three years ago because of their disproportionate impact on people of color (it was–look at Floyd v. City of New York).
Trump’s attacks against Clinton missed some obvious low-hanging red meat for the Republican base. He never once hit on Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation, and only briefly addressed the email scandal that has been harped on ad nauseum by GOP surrogates. He didn’t miss the chance to pat himself on the back for leaving President Clinton’s indiscretions out of the debate, though. Bringing these things up would not only be inappropriate because Secretary Clinton isn’t responsible for her husband’s actions, but also because Trump lives in a huge glass house built by two prior failed marriages and his own infidelities.
He did, however, interrupt Clinton 51 times in the 90 minute debate (compared to the 17 times she interrupted him) and doubled down on his sexist rhetoric about beauty queens and Clinton’s “stamina,” showing that he’s both disrespectful and incapable of restraining his impulses–both of which are golden personality traits for someone with the nuclear launch codes.
If you were watching the split screens, Clinton was bright, collected, and seemed to actually enjoy herself in the debate. By the last round, Trump was becoming increasingly frustrated and emotional, unraveling by the minute.
But the best line of the night–and the most presidential moment for Trump–was when Trump admitted he will support Clinton as President of the United States. I hope the fact checkers will hold him to that statement in January when he shakes Madam President’s hand and tells her congratulations.