I'm going to live-blog the debate- the first one I'm listening to live. My expectation is, Clinton loses. I expect her to go full wonk, details, didactic, dull as toast, while Trump beats her up one side and down the other with blatant lies and personal attacks. Clinton will try direct attacks on Trump's integrity, but direct attacks have never worked with him. Above all else, Clinton needs to dump the laundry list of policies and give America a theme, a reason to pick HER and not her PLATFORM.
Bear in mind I will vote for Clinton in November, but I despise both these people. The difference is, I could be misjudging Clinton and her record, but there's no way I'm misjudging Trump. His record, his speech, his blatant bigotry and greed should disqualify him from ANYTHING.
She shook hands with Trump. I wouldn't do that in a million years.
And Hillary comes out dull as a hammer. with laundry-lists. "I want, I want, I want." The question was, why are you the best person to create the jobs we need for the future? She never actually answered it directly.
Trump comes out by repeating twenty-year-old far-right economic talking points. They're old, and they're wrong, but they are a THEME, not a laundry list. Strangely, Trump is very calm and quiet so far...
"Mrs. Clinton, would you like to respond?" "Well, I think trade is an important issue." She comes out so weak, and then she delivers "Trumped-up," a totally lame laugh line that sounds insincere. And then she treats Trump as if his views were respectable and rational. She's not beating him down, she's LIFTING HIM UP. She's putting him on an equal plane with herself. BAD MOVE.
Trump delivers a credible-sounding point on VAT taxes in other countries, then patronizes Clinton, then slams her on not re-negotiating NAFTA. "What have you done in thirty years?" But he never answered the question about bringing back jobs, and the moderator called him on it. Trump then basically proposes protective tariffs to prevent outsourcing.
Clinton then comes back by attacking the Bush tax codes and deregulations, not job outsourcing. Trump interrupts to make Clinton's pointing out that he rooted for the 2008 economic crash- "That's called business, by the way."
Ah, I see. She's attacking Trump's proposed tax cuts as a job-killer- but it took her long enough.
Trump interrupts again to deny Clinton's calling him out as a climate change denier.
Trump continues to claim the economy is disastrous. Clinton needs to defend the Obama economic legacy, and fast.
Trump uses the "thirty years" thing again. "I will bring back jobs. You can't bring back jobs."
Clinton almost had a good comeback- "I think my husband did a pretty good job." Unfortunately she has NO timing, NO rhetorical instincts- she just rushed on without letting it sink in.
"NAFTA is the worst trade deal ever." And then Trump attacks on TPP and Clinton's flip-flop. "That is just not accurate," Clinton says, and then Trump talks over her. "Donald, I know you live in your own reality." YES. But Trump interrupts again, trying to get her to blame Obama.
Trump repeats his talking points about how good his tax cut is, and then attacks Clinton on regulations. "I'm gonna cut regulations bigly." And Clinton talks over the moderator to get a response. And tells the audience to fact-check Trump on her campaign website.
And now it's toe to toe, but Trump is unravelling a bit.
New question: Defend your tax policy. Trump basically preaches trickle-down and "job creators."
Trump claims Republicans and Democrats agree on cutting business taxes so multinationals will bring back overseas money.
Clinton scores one with "blame everything on me" and "keep saying crazy things." Trump reacts poorly.
"Trumped-up trickle-down." It's not clever, it's not amusing, and whoever told Hillary it was needs to be fired.
Trump can't respond to Clinton's points about the failure of top-down economics, so he attacks her as a typical incompetent politician.
Trump repeats his attacks that Fed chair Yellin is holding down interest rates solely to make Obama look good. Sadly, that'll look plausible to his conspiracy-theory followers.
Question: "Why don't you release your tax returns?" Trump repeats his "audit" excuse, then says, "Look at my FEC disclosure."
Moderator follows up, basically says the audit excuse is bogus. Trump basically says the IRS is out to get him with audits every year "but I'm not complaining." Then uses it to pivot to emails. Cheers from the crowd.
Clinton attacks Trump on tax returns, using the standard "not as rich," "not as charitable", and "indebted to Wall Street and Russia." Then adds a new point: "Maybe he didn't pay any income taxes." Trump interrupts: "That's just smart."
If Hillary had any instinct for rhythm and when to cut short the babble, she'd be walking all over Trump. As it is, it looks pretty even, with Trump holding an edge in dominance.
Clinton gives her usual unconvincing "I made a mistake" response to emails, and Trump nails her on it. Six "Disgracefuls."
And Trump just claimed with a straight face that $650,000,000 is "not a lot of money."
Apparently, in Trump's mind, having a worse airport than Dubai's makes you a third world country.
And Clinton counterattacks on business. Trump doesn't pay people who works for him. And Trump is NODDING.
Clinton points out that Trump once said he'd negotiate down the national debt. Trump interrupts: "Wrong." And then when she stops, he says, "It's all words." Basically calls Clinton a liar, without saying the L word.
I'm having trouble following Trump; he's degenerating into word salad.
"Let's start by talking about race." Hoo boy.
And guns. Oh boy. I think Clinton just let Trump off the hook by bringing guns into this topic.
"Law and order." Trump basically takes the side of the cops without limit. "Inner cities, blacks and hispanics live in Hell." He doesn't say it, but the framing basically blames non-whites for the lack of "law and order." "We have gangs roaming the streets, and in many cases they're illegal immigrants." Talking points, clearly delivered.
Clinton defends black communities. "There are right ways of doing this, and there are ways that are ineffective." NO, NO, NO. There are right ways and WRONG WAYS. Use the rhetoric, dammit, don't sounds so goddamn soft.
Clinton brings up systemic racism. "We can't just say law and order, we hav- we have to create a plan..." She says the right things, but she says them SO DAMN POORLY.
I hope Trump's nodding at Clinton's list of gun control proposals gets him into trouble.
"Do you think police are biased?" Clinton basically says we're all biased- which is the PERFECT way to handle that. It's true. Well done. She pledges training and support for police. Trump agrees with no-fly list also meaning no-guns list, but then he attacks Clinton on "superpredator." Subtly calling her racist. Then goes back to praising stop-and-frisk, that it works, that he'd re-institute it.
Trump: "Democratic politicians use and abandon black voters." Which is not untrue, but Clinton's not likely to get an opportunity to respond.
No, she did- and she didn't respond to his attack. "I prepared for this debate, just like I prepared to be President, and that's a good thing."
Birtherism comes up. Trump blames Clinton's staff for it. "I got him to give the birth certificate." He actually claims he should be thanked for ending a distracting non-issue. Moderator calls him on it. "Nobody was caring much about it."
note: while I'm doing this I can't check any site that's doing live fact-check. So I don't know if Trump is bullshitting about his Palm Beach club that doesn't discriminate on race.
Cyberattacks. Clinton calls out Russia specifically, then notes that Trump praises Putin all the time. Unfortunately she's just so very poor with her delivery.
Trump wins the point on foreign relations: "I'd rather be endorsed by admirals, generals, and border patrol than by crooked politicians."
He then denies that Russia hacked the DNC, then points out the DNC's plans to shut out Bernie Sanders (which is questionable).
So, first use of nuclear weapons. Trump babbles about America being behind, then says he wouldn't first-strike.
Clinton very, very softly and circumspectly attacks Trump on betraying American alliances. Utter fail. If you're going to call him out, CALL HIM OUT.
Final conclusion: Trump had the energy, the style, the debating skills. Listening to Hillary was a chore, except on foreign relations, when she actually found a little energy. Her attempts to make jokes fell absolutely flat. But... Hillary had the only one-liners worth a damn. I call this a tie, overall.
Key failure: Hillary Clinton didn't provide a unified vision of what she stands for.
Another way to put this: for someone who only reads the transcripts, and for someone who fact-checks, Hillary wins hands down. For someone watching, who doesn't know much about politics or policy and who is only listening to tones of voice and confidence, Trump won the first half, Clinton the second half, roughly a tie overall. The problem is, there are a lot more of the second category than the first.