The first of three presidential debates before the November election on Monday may well have been an eye-opener for African-Americans and women alike — that is, if they had not already been awakened a long time ago to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
On the biggest platform to date and in front of a television audience to rival a Super Bowl, Trump appeared to fail miserably in his attempt to convince black and women voters that he’d be a good choice for them.
The debate, held at New York’s Hofstra University, may also have made it clear to the American public that if they’re looking for a seasoned veteran and a president who has displayed a temperament they could trust, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton should be the individual who raises her right hand to take the oath of office in January.
“African-Americans are living in hell” because of gun violence, Trump said.
And while many might agree, Trump’s solution is to resurrect stop-and-frisk laws, which have been determined unconstitutional.
Clinton, on the other hand, came into the debate having pushed Charlotte authorities to release dashcam footage and other video of the recent police shooting of Keith Scott, an African-American many say was unarmed at the time.
“He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior,” Clinton said of her opponent. She also hit Trump on his assertions that President Barack Obama was not a U.S.-born citizen, a position from which the Republican seemed to finally have backed away.
“It was a very hurtful lie that annoyed and bothered the first African-American president,” Clinton said. Moderator Lester Holt asked Trump to explain his recent change on Obama’s birth country but the businessman refused.
“I want to concentrate on bigger, more important issues,” Trump said, avoiding a direct response.
While Trump appeared several times to lose his cool, Clinton remained even-keeled.
“I have feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened,” Clinton said.
“Why not?” Trump retorted.
“Yeah, why not,” Clinton said. “You know, just join the debate by saying more crazy things.”
The former first lady and secretary of state discussed her plans in which she declared that she’d tax the super-wealthy to pay for child care and college, paving the way for American students to receive a free education.
She also vowed to help women in the workplace.
For his part, Trump went on the offensive.
“[Clinton] doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina and you need tremendous stamina to be president of this country,” Trump said.
Again, Clinton’s experience shone through.
“Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, release of dissidents and opening new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” Clinton said.
Several media polls taken after the debate suggested Clinton clearly defeated Trump in the first debate, while others gave Trump the nod.
A CNN poll found that 62 percent of voters who watched thought Clinton won, compared to 27 percent for Trump.
CNBC took an informal poll on its website that found that 61 percent thought Trump won while 39 percent said Clinton was victorious.
New York Times opinion writer Nick Kristof said Clinton “crushed” Trump in the debate while the right-leaning Fox News Channel said Trump struggled, never took control and “failed to exploit” the issues around Clinton’s emails.
A Los Angeles Times panel said Clinton was unflappable while the New York Daily News called Trump “a grumpy loser.”
The next presidential debate, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, will take the form of a town hall meeting in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by moderator Anderson Cooper, based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources.
The third and final debate is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It will have a format identical to Monday’s debate.