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COLUMN: Clinton tees up Trump in first presidential debate


A clear winner emerged after the first of three live presidential debates, and that winner is Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The majority of debate watchers agreed that Clinton decimated her Republican opponent Donald Trump as the two squared off Monday on live TV.

The former Secretary of State, senator and First Lady ran circles around Trump on policy. She poked holes in his rhetoric and badly damaged a seemingly unsinkable ship within the first hour of the nearly two-hour forum.

She looked confident and impenetrable next to Trump, who spent much of his time trying to keep his head above water. Much of my praise of Clinton's success last night had to do with her experience and grasp of complex issues. She waded through a conversation on race without gaffe.

Clinton was relatable, steadfast and, at times, vibrantly charismatic in the way she deflected Trump as the mogul called her character into question.

But let's not kid ourselves here - a meaningful share of Clinton's performance is owed to Trump’s epic prime-time flop.

To say Trump was unprepared is an insult to procrastination. Trump looked rattled, desperate, and combative. He fidgeted constantly, taking copious gulps of water between answers, hiding his face from the skeptical glare of more than 12 million viewers.

For the king of reality television, this was Trump's grandest flop yet. Trump had months to at least get a working grasp of domestic and foreign policy. He didn't need to study hard either. All he needed was a pass.

Instead, Trump flunked out like a high school kid winging a book report worth one third of his final grade. He sauntered haphazardly around complex questions, fumbling his words and uttering incomplete sentences.

It was like an aggressive one-man production of Trump's greatest hits sizzle reel. On every attack, Clinton countered, pushing Trump on his heels for most of the evening.

This was a chance for Trump to show he can have a substantive conversation about what's plaguing America in the modern era. He had a clear shot to show the nation that he had more to offer than bluster, much like President Ronald Reagan in his first debate against then-President Jimmy Carter.

Unlike Reagan, Trump did very little to display any semblance of a potential president. His low jabs at Clinton never landed. His attempts to whittle away at her personally didn't work, and the candidate was left on stage practically naked without an opponent to take his ever-tempting bait.

Clinton took every hit with a searching, unfazed stare. 

It's what you get when a presidential nominee spends the last few decades meticulously crafting and implementing a wholly unique approach to policy. 

Promoters hailed last night's debate as the political heavyweight match of the century. What we witnessed was a professional pummeling a lower class amateur in a fight that referee Lester Holt should have stopped well before the final bell.

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About Ben Solis

Ben Solis is the Managing Editor of Central Michigan Life. He has served as a city and university ...

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