Who won the presidential debate last night? Clinton takes Trump

Published 11:02 am Monday, September 26, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton arrived at the first presidential debate of 2016 tonight in a dead heat in some polls, and very close in most every poll.

The first debate, tonight at Hofstra University, ended with a similar result as these two candidates battled like they were in a heavyweight boxing match for 15 rounds. Nobody landed a knockout, but each got some powerful jabs in.

Hillary was well prepared and rarely stumbled in the debate. She was poised, and sharp and never wavered under attack from Donald. She kept the pressure on Donald, pushing him on failed businesses and comments from over the years he had trouble defending.

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In most circumstances, she would easily be cited as the winner but because Donald did better than some may have expected — he did not completely lose his temper — but, he did lose the debate.

Donald kept coming back to Hillary and the political class — suggesting that she’s had three decades to make things happen and hasn’t. He also pointed out repeatedly that he is a successful businessman and she is not.

Donald was far more intense, although he got off to a somewhat shaky start. He was far more composed for most of the debate, however, than many perhaps expected so that may have scored him some extra points.

The debate was less contentious early on than many expected but late in the hour-and-a-half debate Donald said aggressively that he does not believe Hillary has the stamina to be president.

The loser of the debate was perhaps moderator Lester Holt, NBC News anchor. Holt struggled during the first hour of debate to get control of the event, with both candidates controlling the floor.

Hillary Clinton landed perhaps the blow of all blows in this first debate when she suggested that anyone who gets bent out of shape over a tweet shouldn’t have his finger near the button as president.

Trump was pushed on the fact that he will not release his tax returns and while he struggled a bit with the answers  he ultimately landed a counter punch at Hillary by suggesting he would release his tax return if she released her 33,000 “deleted emails.” The crowd at Hofstra cheered.

In the final analysis, Hillary Clinton was the more prepared, polished candidate in the debate — rather unflappable and with crisp, well constructed answers. But she struggled to knock out an aggressive Donald Trump who shot repeatedly with sound bites and rhetoric against career politicians, namely Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton.

It will be interesting to see how the polls react in coming days, but it is possible Donald Trump will get some bump. That’s mostly because he did not implode as some expected. Thus, he likely did not lose any votes tonight.

Hillary Clinton, however, likely did not gain many votes tonight. So, we began in a dead heat and probably ended in a dead heat.


You can watch the debate live here below.

Here is a rewind of live updates from the debate tonight (in order of the beginning reading down):

Hillary Clinton speaks first. “Donald, it is good to be with you. I hope I will be able to earn you vote on November 8.”

No firepower from Donald yet. He is speaking calmly, and paced. “We have to stop our jobs from being stolen from us. We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States.”

“I call it Trumped up trickle down,” Hillary said in response to Trump.

She said Trump started out fortunate, with $14 million borrowed from his father to start his first business. She positioned herself as the middle class candidate.

Trump said his father only gave him a “little” bit of money. He notes America owes “20 trillion dollars.”

It took 16 minutes into the debate for Donald to interrupt Hillary while she is speaking but it was only brief and he backed off and took a sip of water.

Hillary: “Some country is going to be the leader of clean energy. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels…we can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs. I try to be very specific.”

Donald: “I am a great believer in all forms of energy. But our energy policies are a disaster. You can’t do what you are looking to do with 20 trillion in debt.”

Donald: “Hillary, you have been doing this for 30 years…why are you just now thinking of these solutions?”

Hillary: “Trade is not the only challenge in the economy.”

Donald: “Your husband signed NAFTA and that is one of the worst trade deals maybe signed anywhere but certainly in this country. Nothing will ever top NAFTA.”

Hillary: “Donald, I know you live in your own reality.” (Laughter from the live audience at Hofstra University)

Where is Lester Holt? Hillary and Donald have been talking back and forth and Lester Holt the moderator has been silent as they go at one another about business policies in America. Holt is letting them talk back and forth on the topic of achieving prosperity.

Finally at 8:24 Lester interrupts — “let me interrupt..” but Hillary took the floor back speaking over Lester.

Lester is trying to interrupt at 8:25 but Trump talks over him. Trump and Clinton chattering back and forth and Lester can’t get in until now.

“I want to talk about taxes,” Holt said, finally gaining the floor back.

Hillary: “I have a feeling that by the end of the night I am going to be blamed for everything.”

Donald in response: “Why not?”

Hillary repeats her term “Trumped up trickle down.” “I don’t think top down works in America,” Hillary says, saying she thinks it starts from the middle class. “Broad base inclusive growth is what we need in America.”

Donald: “We’re in a bubble right now. We are in a big fat ugly bubble and we better be awful careful. And we have a Fed that is doing political things…by keeping interest rates at this level. When they raise interest rates you are going to see some bad things happen.”

Lester asks Donald about releasing his tax returns. Donald said he made $694 million this past year. He said his returns will be released, later, after a routine audit that’s underway. “I will release them after audit.”

Lester reminds him the returns can be released during the audit. “I will release my tax returns against my lawyers wishes when she releases her 33,000 emails…”  (The audience applauds)

Hillary: “Maybe he’s not as rich as he claims to be. Maybe he is not as charitable as he claims to be. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in federal income taxes. So if he has paid zero for troops, zero for vets…” “It must be something terrible he is trying to hide.”

Hillary on her emails: “I made a mistake using private emails.”

Donald: “It’s about time we had somebody running this country who knows something about money.”

Hillary: She accuses Donald of not paying — “stiffing” — people over the course of his business and not paying the what they were owed. She mentions he has taken six business bankruptcies.

Donald: On occasion — four times — we took bankruptcy, Donald said. “I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I am running a company…and that’s what I do.”

The subject is now on Race Relations in America.

Donald: “Law and order. We have to stop the violence and bring back law and order.”

Hillary: “It’s unfortunate Donald paints such a negative picture of the black communities in our country. There’s a lot that we should be proud of and supportive and lifting up.”

Hillary said she thinks “common sense gun measures” would help fight crime.”

Donald: “The African American community has been let down by politicians.” “They are very upset with what politicians have told them and then go away for four years.”

Donald was asked by Lester Holt about just recently acknowledging that President Obama was born in the United States. “I got him to give the birth certificate…and I am satisfied with it.”

Lester said you got the birth certificate in 2011 but in 2013, 14, 15 …still would not acknowledge that the President was born in the United States?

Donald: “I think I have developed very good relationships over the last little while with the African American community and I think they wanted me to come to that conclusion…”

Hillary: “(Donald) persisted year after year…(on the birther issue against America’s first black president).” “The birther lie was a very hurtful one.”

Donald: “Your campaign sent our pictures of (Obama) in a certain garb. So it really doesn’t work that way.”

This segment is about securing America.

Donald: “Under President Obama we have lost control over things we used to have control over. We created the Internet but ISIS is beating is at our own game (with the Internet).”

Hillary: “I would do everything possible to take out (ISIS) leadership.”

(Someone just posted on Facebook that Lester Holt could never be a high school teacher).

Holt has had trouble keeping the candidates on task.

Hillary: “Donald has consistently insulted Muslims…Muslims at home, Muslims aboard…”

Donald: “I have much better judgement than (Hillary) has. I also have much better temperament than she is. My strongest asset is my temperament.”

Hillary: “Whew…Okay…” she said in response. Audience laughed.

Hillary: “(Donald’s) cavalier attitude to nuclear” is a big concern. Hillary suggested that anyone who gets bent out of shape over a tweet shouldn’t have his finger near the button as president.

Donald: “We are losing billions and billions of dollars…we cannot be the policemen of the world where they are not paying us what we need. She does not say that because she does not have any business ability.”

Donald: “I don’t believe (Hillary) has the stamina to be president.”

Hillary: She said when Donald travels to 126 counties and testifies for 11 hours…then he can talk to her about stamina.

Presidential Debate 2016 Preview

After months of tangling from afar, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will confront each other face-to-face for the first time in Monday night’s presidential debate, laying out for voters their vastly different visions for the nation’s future.

The high-stakes showdown — the first of three presidential debates — comes as both candidates are viewed negatively by large numbers of Americans, with Democrat Clinton facing questions about her trustworthiness and Republican Trump struggling to convince many voters that he has the temperament and policy depth to be president.

Interest in the presidential race has been intense, and the campaigns are expecting a record-breaking audience to watch the 90-minute televised debate at suburban New York’s Hofstra University.

Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, is banking on voters seeing her as a steady hand who can build on the record of President Barack Obama, whose popularity is rising as he winds down his second term in office. She’s called for expanding Obama’s executive orders if Congress won’t pass legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and for broader gun control measures. Overseas, she’s called for a no-fly zone in Syria but has vowed to keep the military out of a large-scale ground war to defeat the Islamic State group.

For Clinton, victory in November largely hinges on rallying the same young and diverse coalition that elected Obama but has yet to fully embrace her.

“Hillary has recognized that she has a lot of work to do to earn people’s trust,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “We think this debate is a fantastic opportunity for her to present not just what she is going to do to make a difference in people’s lives, but she actually has a long history of getting this done.”

Trump has tapped into deep anxieties among some Americans, particularly white, working-class voters who feel left behind in a changing economy and diversifying nation. While the real estate mogul lacks the experience Americans have traditionally sought in a commander in chief, he’s banking on frustration with career politicians and disdain for Clinton to push him over the top on Election Day.

“He speaks a language that people out there can understand, and so I think that he’s going to have a good night,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said of Trump’s debate prospects.

The centerpiece of Trump’s campaign has been a push for restrictive immigration measures, including a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and an early proposal to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from coming to the U.S. But he’s been less detailed about other ideas, including his plan for stamping out the Islamic State group in the Middle East.

Clinton’s camp is worried that Trump will be held to a different standard in the debate and is particularly concerned that the notoriously hot-headed businessman will be rewarded for simply keeping his cool. Clinton backers have been publicly pushing moderator Lester Holt of NBC News to fact-check Trump if he tries to mislead voters about his record and past statements.

“All that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out,” Mook said.

Trump’s advisers have indeed been urging him to keep calm on stage, mindful of voters’ concerns about his temperament. On Saturday, Trump showed a glimpse of the traits his advisers want to keep in check, announcing on Twitter that he might extend a debate invitation to Gennifer Flowers, a woman who had an affair with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Trump’s campaign said the candidate was responding to Clinton’s decision to invite businessman and Trump critic Mark Cuban to the debate. And by Sunday morning, they said Flowers would not be attending.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, said the candidate floated the invitation to “remind people that he’s a great counterpuncher.”

Trump was often a commanding presence in the Republican primary debates, launching biting personal attacks on his rivals. But at times, he appeared to fade into the background, especially during more technical policy discussions — something he’ll be unable to do with just two candidates on stage.

Clinton has debated more than 30 times at the presidential level, including several one-on-one contests against Obama in 2008 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. But Monday’s contest will be her first presidential debate against a candidate from the opposing party.

Mook and Conway spoke Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Priebus appeared on Fox New Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.