Donald Trump committed 5 unforced errors during Monday’s debate – any of which could prove to be fatal in the general election.
Post-debate polls show Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton crushing Donald Trump during the first presidential debate.
CNN‘s poll of debate viewers shows Clinton winning 62% to Trump’s 27%.
According to the CNN/ORC Poll of voters who watched the debate, “Voters who watched said Clinton expressed her views more clearly than Trump and had a better understanding of the issues by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Clinton also was seen as having done a better job addressing concerns voters might have about her potential presidency by a 57% to 35% margin, and as the stronger leader by a 56% to 39% margin.”
Perhaps more impressive, however, were the unforced errors committed by Trump during the debate – many of which could prove fatal this November.
Allegations that Trump is racist came up during the debate. In one telling exchange, Trump defended “Stop and Frisk” policies – despite Lester Holt and Hillary Clinton reminding him that the practice was once ruled un-Constitutional, with Holt pointing out that “the argument [against it] is that it’s a form of racial profiling.”
Clinton went on to point out the negative image Trump paints of African-American communities during his campaign rallies: “I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country.” As The Washington Post points out:
Trump has indeed painted a dire picture, saying “you walk down the street, you get shot” and imploring African Americans to vote for him because things are already so bad for them. “What do you have to lose?” he says regularly.
Perhaps most telling is the fact that Trump never actually addresses the allegations that he is racist. Instead he simply dismisses the topic, claiming that Democratic politicians have controlled the African-American communities “for up to 100 years.”
There was also discussion regarding Trump’s years-long campaign to delegitimize the country’s first African-American president, but Trump failed to even attempt to explain why he kept on with his birther claims for years after Pres. Obama released the long form of his birth certificate. True to form, Trump merely bragged that he was the one who forced Obama to release that form.
The following exchange is rather telling:
HOLT: I will let you respond. It’s important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You’ve continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15…
HOLT: …. as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?
TRUMP: Well, nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it.
As The Washington Post notes: “This is not true. Trump was asked about this on and off for years – including during this campaign – and he continued to make clear his suspicions weren’t satisfied.”
Hillary Clinton ripped into Trump regarding his birther claims, first mocking him for admitting he had prepared for the question: “And clearly, as Donald just admitted, he knew he was going to stand on this debate stage, and Lester Holt was going to be asking us questions, so he tried to put the whole racist birther lie to bed.”
But it can’t be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted, he persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.
But, remember, Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy. He actually was sued twice by the Justice Department.
So he has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.
Toward the end of the debate, Lester Holt asked Trump about his sexist remark that Clinton didn’t have “a presidential look.”
HOLT: Mr. Trump, this year Secretary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major party. Earlier this month, you said she doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” She’s standing here right now. What did you mean by that?
Trump changed the subject, falsely claiming that he had said Clinton “lacks the stamina for the job” of president, to which Clinton replied in one of the best quotes of the debate:
Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
This sparked the following – telling – exchange:
CLINTON: You know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said…
TRUMP: I never said that.
CLINTON: …. women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.
TRUMP: I didn’t say that.
CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.
TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet…
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: … she’s going to vote this November.
The Washington Post noted that “This was well-covered a while back,” in response to Trump’s seeming denial of the incident in question.
“I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her,” he explained.
Trump continued his long-standing criticism of Mexico throughout the debate, calling their booming manufacturing industry “the Eighth Wonder of the World” and criticizing NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – which “provided for the elimination of most tariffs on products traded” between the Mexico and the United States.
As NBC News reports, Latinos already had low expectations of Trump leading into the debate, “with 72 percent saying they found him unfavorable.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports that while it is possible for Trump to win without the Latino vote, it is highly doubtful. Emily Farris, an assistant professor of political science at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth had this to say:
“If we look back over the last six presidential elections, only one Republican has won a majority of the vote: George W. Bush in 2004. Given this fact and that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic group in the US, it is unlikely that a Republican nominee can win the election without courting a significant number of Latino voters.”
BBC News, The Observer and others were less generous. For instance, BBC reports that: “Because of population growth rates, if the Republican presidential candidate won the same percentage of the Hispanic vote in 2016 as nominee Mitt Romney did in 2012 (27%), according to a study by Republican strategists, he would have to win 64% of the white vote. No Republican has done that since Ronald Reagan’s re-election landslide in 1984.”
The Observer adds that the damage to the Republican party is not just confined to Trump’s campaign. “In just the last six months, Democrats have registered more than 850,000 new Hispanic voters in California. That’s stunning, but California is deep blue already, so these new voters won’t likely change the outcome of the presidential contest. But the mobilization of Hispanic voters in purple and red states will matter, costing Donald Trump the presidency, and possibly wounding down-ballot Republican candidates.”
Income Tax Returns
Once again, Trump blames an IRS audit for his failure to release his tax returns despite debate moderator Lestor Holt calling him out on it…. “you’re perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. And so the question, does the public’s right to know outweigh your personal…”
Clinton turned Trump’s refusal to answer the question into one of the high-points of the debate, taking the opportunity to poke at one of Trump’s know sore-spots – his personal wealth.
“Well, I think you’ve seen another example of bait-and-switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit.”
“So you’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be,” Clinton began.
“Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, Trump – seeming to brag – casually replied “That makes me smart” to the allegation that he hasn’t been paying federal taxes.
Later in the debate, when Clinton restated the allegation that Trump has not been paying federal taxes, he seemed to justify it by claiming the money “would be squandered” by the government, “believe me.”
The Housing Crisis
The following exchange about the Great Recession could – and likely will – come back to haunt Trump.
CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.
In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.
TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.
Aaron Blake of The Washington Post entered the follow remark on their annotated debate transcript: “Do NOT be surprised if this turn[s] up in a campaign ad. It kind of passed quickly, but this is a pretty dismissive response from Trump that struggling Americans probably won’t like.”