Posted September 27, 2016
Credit: David Goldman / Associated Press
It didn’t matter which Donald showed up – because Hillary Clinton beat them both.
No, he didn’t insult large swaths of the American people this evening. He didn’t call her “Crooked Hillary.” And he started the debate with some semblance of message discipline. But even after time to prepare, even after knowing what he was likely to be asked, he couldn’t out trump (pun intended) the candidate who brought her polling advantages in experience, qualifications, and above all, temperament to life during last night’s debate.
It is one thing to know that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate for the Presidency, and another thing to watch the two candidates side by side for 90 minutes, and to see what this means in a potential President. It wasn’t clear to me that Donald Trump knew what Lester Holt meant when he was asked about first use in nuclear weapons, and it was equally clear to the audience that Hillary Clinton could probably recite the terms of every nuclear arms agreement ever negotiated.
It is one thing to know that Hillary Clinton has public service experience as secretary of state, as senator from New York, and throughout her career as first lady of Arkansas and the United States. It is another thing to watch her outlining her vision and plans for moving American’s economy forward, for confronting ISIS, and for addressing race relations in this country, contrasted with Donald Trump.
And of course, there is the question of temperament. Hillary Clinton stood on the stage for ninety minutes, calm, smiling and controlled, calling out Trump when he wasn’t truthful. “Just the facts, ma’am” could have been invented for this moment.
Ninety minutes is a long time to be in a one-on-one debate, and it’s hard to fake it. Hillary Clinton didn’t need to even try. Tonight we got another little moment of history – the first major presidential debate between a man and a woman – and you can feel a few more cracks in that old glass ceiling.
Additional analysis from Anita Dunn:
- PBS Newshour on 9/26/16: How the candidates prepared for their first face-off
- Associated Press on 9/25/16: Clinton, Trump look to overcome weaknesses on debate stage
- Wall Street Journal on 9/20/16: Hillary Clinton Prepping for Two Trumps at Debate
- RetroReport as seen in the New York Times on 9/25/16: The Great Debate: Style or Substance?