Did Trump win the first debate?

I watched the debate. I called it for the moderator with a draw between Crooked Hillary and Donald Trump.

Technically that is a win to Trump, because Hillary Clinton should have cleaned his clock. She didn’t. Even if she won narrowly then that is a win too, again because she should have nailed him, and she didn’t.

Some in the Media party were quick out of the blocks to declare Crooked Hillary a winner but now after some thought others are walking back that declaration.

The snap analyses of Monday night’s debate came with a hard caveat. Donald Trump has broken the political media’s antenna, again and again. Gaffes that would have torpedoed other candidates and other campaigns did not slow him down. Similar gaffes, like Trump’s comment about “the Second Amendment people” stopping Hillary Clinton from swinging the Supreme Court and his later comment that the Secret Service should stop protecting her, got wildly different voter reactions.

That’s led to uncertainty about what would normally be a clear, clean storyline — that Trump lost the debate. The efforts of Trump’s online army to counter-spin this have been limited to trending the hashtag #TrumpWon, as TV networks and almost all analysts say otherwise. But in the hours after Trump and Clinton left Long Island, we’ve seen five narratives of how maybe, possibly, Trump got the better of things.

The Media are exasperated because Trump won’t play by their rules. The Washington Post says there are 5 reasons to suggest that Trump won.

1. Hillary was too prepped. Moments after the debate ended, Trump’s top surrogates in the Hofstra University spin room began insisting that a “human” candidate had gone up against a sort of talking-point cyborg. “The undecideds saw a human being in Donald Trump,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), one of the first members of Congress to back Trump. “If you’re saying something about me, and I don’t like it, then I’m going to interrupt you. I thought it was strange, a couple of times, that she didn’t interrupt him.”

The idea here is to exploit the authenticity gap, a source of endless frustration for Democrats who cannot understand how the host of “The Apprentice” is seen as more honest than Clinton. Trump has survived countless controversies with a retreat to that framework — he tells it like it is, and politicians don’t talk.

2. Trump won the first 15 minutes, so maybe people stopped watching after that. The asymmetry between Trump’s scrappy campaign and Clinton’s Death Star — as well as Trump’s decision to keep talking about his fat-shaming of a Miss Universe winner — is helping Clinton win the morning-after spin. But Trump’s campaign has been running a tight clip from the debate, one of the very first exchanges, as an ad. It’s easy to see why, as Trump boils down his best “outsider” argument and asks why Clinton has not achieved her goals after a life in politics. “He was better early,” wrote Stephen F. Hayes in the generally Trump-skeptical Weekly Standard. “Better to be better early.”

I like how Donald Trump won’t apologise for things he’s said. He isn’t cowed by social justice bullies. Sure he says mean things…but so what. Since when did stick and stones stop being relevant. Plus Rosie O’Donnell is fat.

3. Trump won on the economy. True to form, Slate (where I worked from 2010 to 2014) published a contrary take on the debate in which Trump’s dominance of a key, early question steered Clinton into a near disaster. “Trump bullied his way through, at times barely letting her finish a stammering thought, but he also made one point that resonates with what so many distrustful working-class whites in the Midwest know to be true,” wrote Jordan Weissmann, the site’s economics columnist. “Clinton has been a politician for a long time. Where was she on trade before this presidential race?”

There is anecdotal evidence that voters noticed. While most quick-take focus groups found Clinton the winner of the debate, McClatchy — Trump’s new favorite news source, non-Sean Hannity division — found a collection of voters who found Clinton “pie in the sky” and Trump concrete. That’s risky for the Democrat. Her economic answer synthesized years of liberal think tank ideas, the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders, and the recent, successful records of Democratic presidents. It did not connect the way that Trump’s primary-winning rhetoric — “we’re getting killed on jobs” connected.

Donald Trump has tried, failed, tried again, built, lost and built again. What has Hillary Clinton ever done? She’s never risked capital, lost it all, rebuilt herself. She’s been a pampered insider for most of her adult life, especially since she hitched her wagon to Slick Willie. I know who’d I’d trust on the economy and it wouldn’t be someone who has never earned an honest dollar in her life.

4. Trump lost on points but seemed credible enough. Breitbart News, which has loaned its CEO to the Trump campaign through the election, commissioned a “flash poll” of its own. The bad news for readers was that Clinton was seen as the winner of the debate. The good news: He managed to convince some waverers that he could indeed be president.

“This debate did not shift the race,” insisted pollster Pat Caddell. “What it did do was show Trump as plausible, as a strong leader and more importantly that he cares about people.”

This was the going theory, before the debate, of how Trump could win it. No analyst thought that the business mogul would outwit the former secretary of state. The theory was that he would become a plausible president, a face and voice that it was possible to see in the Oval Office. The snap polls did not indicate this, but the hunt is on to prove that voters did.

Uh oh.

5. Clinton missed the kill shot. The Democratic nominee’s decision to goad Trump, then sit back as he tripped over his shoelaces seemed to deliver for her. But it did not deliver the sort of victory that ends a campaign, or starts a panic in the opposing camp, like Lloyd Bentsen’s humiliation of Dan Quayle or Gerald Ford’s tangled explanation of whether Poland was under Soviet domination. To some observers, it could have, had Clinton sprung on Trump when he glibly said he paid no taxes because he was “smart.”

“Clinton was on a roll, clearly hoping to get through prepared material, and she let Trump off the hook with all the people who play by the rules,” wrote Jeb Lund in Rolling Stone. “Are they stupid? Are people who obey the law morons? Is everyone who thinks they should pitch in for roads and schools a chump? And how ethical are Trump’s smarts? Is he legally paying zero taxes, or is he putting himself on the same plane of financial genius as Al Capone?”

Clinton’s campaign latched onto the tax answer and clearly sees it as a weapon for the final stretch of the campaign. But it’s not dominating coverage of the debate as it could have; accordingly, Clinton’s frustrated attacks on Trump’s refusal to release his taxes have not broken through.

Clinton made a strategic error in going after the tax issue. If I was Trump I’d say I’ve paid more in taxes in my lifetime than Hillary Clinton has scalped taxpayers for in hers.

The race is still harder to pick than a broken nose, but don’t count out trump. He’s a battler and Hillary really is sick. For someone who has pneumonia a week ago she sure looked chipper.


– Washington Post

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.