Welcome to the Final Leg of US Presidentiality

Photo: CNN News

I was that one that stayed up at 1am, watching the first US Presidential Candidates' Debate. We, across the Atlantic, have watched the circus that has been the electoral race so far, with a mixture of bemusement and confusion.

What you have to understand is that even the most 'Democrat' of candidates aren't really liberal by European standards, where free healthcare, gun control and greater social security are all status quo. We would probably mark HRC as a Conservative by British party standards (and a Tory here is not especially similar to the GOP in the US), and Donald Trump, well, he'd probably be considered very right wing: hardline UKIPer, or even, dare I say, the BNP?

All of this aside, it has been a rather entertaining, if not infuriating campaign season. And that seemed to be the tone going into this debate.

Pre-debate Thoughts:

We know how this will go: Trump will start out strong and powerful, but lacking in the facts. HRC, a less charismatic but more fact-filled speaker, will call him out on some facts. He, with fewer facts, will retaliate with his usual insult filled rhetoric and that's what the 'debate' will settle into. 

First Impressions:

Okay, so first things first: how are they looking? Hillary has a grin plastered to her face but doesn't seem as frail and ill as the GOP are desperate to paint her. Trump looks the same but also seems to be sniffing every time he finishes a sentence. Is there a bad smell or does he have a cold?

Fact Checking:

I personally believe that debate moderators should fact check. Surely it is their job to make sure the electorate are well informed with all of the right facts. Otherwise, I could go and stand for some position of power and tell everyone to vote for me because I'll personally pay off everyone's mortgage and hand out free cupcakes every Saturday. 

HRC said that if people wanted to fact check, then they should head over to her website, which I personally felt was a bit poor, but whatever.

Substance:

Donald Trump began the debate echoing the strongest and most resounding of his sentiments so far. Much was made about economic policy, and he seemed to have been schooled on how he should be acting: at the beginning he seemed a lot calmer and less erratic than other rallies etc.
Example: 'Now, in all fairness to Secretary Clinton - yes, is that okay? Good. I want you to be very happy, it's very important to me.'

Time and time again his pitfalls are  facts and fact-checking, which I think is in part due to to him addressing certain  sentiments within the electorate rather than problems which present more solid facts and figures to build a case. Clinton attacked him well, showing that she had, of course, done her homework, and his arguments are always left on shaky ground. There were the sort of supposedly off-the-cuff remarks and barbs that we all know are rehearsed, and which really annoy me (like Theresa May here in the U.K.) from Hillary, where instead a carefully pointed question could have brought out better arguments from both sides. Example: 'we have a winning fight' - what would you do?

I think HRC could have made use of her silences more. For example, at one point she said 'look what he said' and then continued for about 2 minutes. Just leave it, Hillary, that would have spoken far more powerfully.

I also wished we could have seen more questions that didn't solely tie into economic policy, but there are two more debates to follow. YAY.

Overview:

Let's face it, this debate likely didn't swing anyone wildly. Trump's supporters will still be enthusiastically Trump supporters, and Hillary's supporters will still feel semi-enthusiastic about November. Probably didn't do a lot for uneducated voters.

Trump was strong and on the offense for the first quarter, but after that reverted back to the rude and rattled tone seen before. He caught Hillary out on NAFTA, which, although not economically the strongest, it does always seem important to voters. Hillary was decent, but did get caught out and couldn't reply to whether or not she supported Obama's views on TPP. Roll on the next two debates.

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