Observations on the First Clinton-Trump Debate

Letters to the Editor | September 28, 2016, Wednesday // 15:19
Bulgaria: Observations on the First Clinton-Trump Debate Democrat Hillary Clinton (R) and Republican Donald Trump (L) shake hands at the end of the first Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, US, September 26, 2016. EPA/BGNES.

Novinite is publishing a comment by our reader Mr David Hampson on the debate between US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

David Hampson has worked in the US Government, Academia and the Private Sector. Working in the private sector and for the U.S. Government, David has undertaken projects in South America, Africa and Europe. For the last seventeen years he has concentrated his focus on South Eastern Europe from a base in Bulgaria. His focus has concentrated of assisting Direct Foreign Investment to the region and working on a number of large investment projects including the privatization of the Bulgarian National Telecom where he served as the Senior Advisor on the ground, to three Chief Executive Officers.

Trump started reasonably well, if from my opinion misguided, with his “Make America Great Again” and accusing everyone from the Chinese to the Mexicans from benefiting from America’s transfer of jobs overseas largely without statistical evidence and playing to his core voter base. However, from there he went downhill.

Clinton’s evidently prepared positions for most of the rest of the debate controlled and managed the exchange in many cases through offering a clear set of specific policies which were clearly missing from the Trump repertoire. In fact, he made numerous responses to questions that led him deeper and deeper into misleading statements, many of which were later shown to demonstrate either his lack of knowledge, or of openly misleading statements (these included his position on the second Iraq war prior to the invasion, his position of potential Russian cyber involvement in the election and his defense of his failure to release his income tax data). All his answers, later “fact checked”, were found to be inaccurate.

Later, when it was revealed that he had in many years paid little of or no income taxes for his companies, he stated he considered that good business.

The issue surrounding his multiyear claim that President Obama was not born in the US and which he only recently acknowledged, was a glaring example of his being drawn into an area, which clearly demonstrated a strange side of his character. Here was a man running for President of the US boasting he forced the President to disclose his “birth certificate” (which showed Trump to be completely wrong), but then attempted to claim that Hillary Clinton herself was the source of this campaign. Again, as many of his previous comments a “fact check” of his claim was found to be without merit, in other words a mistruth or in simple language – a lie.

By this time in the debate, he was swimming but only occasionally coming up for breath. His positions on women’s rights, his disparagement of women, his simplistic example of how to deal with minorities harassed and forced into the margins of society by lack of opportunity and a misplaced justice system, all began to reflect his nonexistent thinking of solutions or policy changes needed to address these serious items
Trump prides himself on speaking “off the cuff” or with a degree of spontaneity. This was a man exposed through his lack of preparation and indeed a sadly lacking knowledge base of serious items, which a President must take counsel on and address.

It was not surprising therefore, that immediate post debate polls showed Clinton judged as “winning” the debate by a margin of 62 % - 27 %. Other surveys showed a similar view of undecided voters noting an 18 – 2 margin post the review of how they reacted in favor of Clinton.

Trump will live to fight another day. Two more debates will give him a chance to redress his first debate debacle. Other candidates including President Obama came back from a first poor showing four years ago and Ronald Reagan before him. So, it is not impossible. But both men had a message and policy ideals, but there is little if any sense that Trump has this intellectual and policy base to draw upon. The potential is that Trump will continue his current style of operating. He should keep his voter base but probably not grow support much further. College educated women, independent voters, minorities and those concerned about his gross lack of knowledge about the process of government, including many senior Republicans, will almost certainly not be convinced by his style or rhetoric.

We should be prepared for increased vitriol as the election process moves forward. However, the final statement will be one well known to Trump from his “reality show” climb to fame. However, this time he will be the recipient of his famous phrase “YOU’RE FIRED”.

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Tags: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, presidential debate

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