Trump and Clinton create their own version of The Wizard of Oz
IT was supposed to be an episode of The Wizard of Oz ending with The Donald showing he has a brain and the public discovering Hillary had a heart all along.
Instead we got a version for the modern era that was more like The Presidential Candidates of Odd.
Even the most biased of reporters would have to give victory to Hillary Clinton but if we learned one thing from Debate Night it’s that facts and fiction are interchangeable.
The two White House hopefuls painted pictures of the America they want but it was their current view of the world that was more worried.
The unengaged who just tuned into the race would be forgiven for thinking that the United States is a mess – or as Donald Trump described it a “third world country”.
Here are some takeaways:
The one liners
- ‘Trumped Up Triple Down Economics’: Clinton’s description for her opponent’s plan to slash corporate taxes.
- ‘A job creator like Ronald Regan’: How Trump sees himself.
- Trump alleged that Clinton has been fighting Isis “all her adult life”.
- “Maybe he’s not as rich and charitable as he says he is.” - Clinton’s argument for why Trump won’t release his tax receipts.
- “Donald we know you live in your own reality…”
The key arguments
Hillary argued that support for small businesses, equal pay, affordable childcare and closing loopholes for big corporates could deliver 10 millions jobs. And she said that her plans to address climate change would lead to more work.
On the other hand, Trump painted a picture of a devastated America where jobs are routinely being stolen by Mexicans and Chinese. He also denied every saying climate change was a Chinese creation (despite tweeting it). Ultimately Trump’s plan is cut corporation tax and be a job creator like Ronald Regan.
Both sides clashed over their ability to take on Isis with Trump claiming Clinton had put her plan on the internet thereby rendering it useless. She claimed his plan was so secret it didn’t exist.
Oddly the debate spent only a couple of minutes dealing with the issue of State emails that Clinton accessed on her private while Secretary of State. She said: “I made a mistake and I would do it differently.”
3. Trumps taxes
Trump struggled to explain away why he won’t release his tax returns, insisting he had published a “financial statement of sorts”. He said he would release his returns when Clinton releases more emails.
Clinton accused him of “stiffing” thousands of people and suggested that perhaps Trump is not as rich and generous as he suggests, citing reports that he owes $650m to Wall Street and American banks. He responded by saying that’s not a huge amount – and at one point appeared to admit his federal tax bill is minimal.
4. Clinton’s stamina
It wasn’t until the very end that Clinton’s health came into the equation. She turned the question into one about women, suggesting that he was into beauty shows and didn’t understand what it would take to be president.
5. Race relations and gun laws
Clinton used this section to appear caring while Trump went for tough. He claimed she wasn’t capable of delivering law and order. “We have gangs roaming the street. They are illegal immigrants,” he said.
Her approach was to make a “better job of working with communities”, saying that police and everybody in the community needs to deal with an in-built bias.
The predictable lines
- Trump took only a couple of minutes to suggest that Mexicans are going around stealing American jobs.
- Clinton reminded us that she’s a grandmother so she thinks about the future a lot.
- Clinton reused her line on how Trump can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons because he gets provoked by tweets.
- Trump dragged up the emails but Clinton decided to give a short and frank apology for “a mistake” rather than explain herself again.
- On the foreign policy, both sides repeated well worn arguments.
All of that combined to give us more than 90 minutes of pretty good television but no knockout blows.
Clinton knew her lines but despite talking about her middle-class background didn’t convince that she is just an ordinary American girl. Did she connect emotionally? Probably not.
- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clash over race and economy in first debate
- As it happened: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go face to face in first US Presidential debate
However, there were moments of humour and she has clearly decided to look presidential by attempting to bring everything back to policy.
At one point Trump argued: "I also have a much better temperament than her... I think my strongest attribute is my temperament,"
She didn’t react beyond a small giggle.
When Trump attacked her for staying off the campaign trail recently she landed one of the best responses of the night: "I think Donald just criticised me for preparing for this debate.
“And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And that is a good thing."
On the other hand the businessman managed to stay in the game, suppress some of the madness and played to the audience that believes America has been ruined by the establishment.
The good news is that there are plenty of questions left over after the first debate and with two more instalments to come, the stamina of both candidates is about to be tested.