10:38 – And it’s over — and neither one scored a knockout. I’ll be going on Facebook Live to discuss what that means.
10:36 – Hillary just emptied the reserves of gossip on Trump to attack him over his attitudes on women, apropos to nothing on the topic at hand. Weird, left-field attack. Why not launch that earlier when they were dealing with family-leave policy?
10:29 – Trump’s having a good moment on the Iran deal and the ransom payments.
10:25 – The energy level has picked up near the end. Both candidates have proven that they have enough stamina to get through the debate.
10:21 – If I learn anything from this debate, it’s that no one calls Sean Hannity.
10:18 – Good back and forth on fighting ISIS and terror. Trump seems to have caught a second wind, and he’s pummeling Clinton for her inaction in regard to ISIS as Secretary of State.
10:13 – Huge missed opportunity on cybercrimes for Trump: no mention of her e-mail scandal? Really? Trump seems more prepared for this debate, but it’s utterly mystifying that he let that slide.
10:10 – Trump getting back on track on the hacking issue, tying it back to the DNC’s attempts to protect Hillary’s candidacy. Started to lose the thread of it a little bit when it came to ISIS and ICANN, though.
10:07 – Trump won the first 30 minutes, Hillary won the second 30. Now we’re getting into national security, and Trump has some opportunities to score points here.
10:03 – And now Hillary is beating Trump up on the birther issue, and is reminding viewers that Trump got sued in the 1970s for discriminatory housing practices. It’s a stupid issue, and Trump had four years to drop it, and didn’t. This was going to be an issue, and it’s just bad. Trump may score a couple of points on the “holier than thou” rebuttal, but this is a loser of a discussion. Trump should just quit talking about it and let the debate move to the next topic.
10:02 – Racial healing <<< “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye.
10:00 – Ah, the birther question. Trump wants to take credit for forcing Obama to produce his birth certificate. Yeah, whatever.
9:58 – “I’ve been all over the place — you decided to stay home, and that’s okay,” Trump zinged. Hillary zinged back that she was busy preparing for the presidency. Yeah, whatever.
9:55 – Trump signs on to the terror watch-list ban, of course. *sigh*
9:54 – Everyone’s implicitly biased, Hillary claims, not just police. Not just those in the basket of deplorables?
9:53 – Hillary calls for gun “safety” legislation, including promoting a terror watch list bar on gun sales.
9:50 – Trump seems to be flailing a little on the law-and-order explanations. He’s getting back to the impact on minority communities, but he should have focused more on that overall.
9:48 – Gangs of illegal immigrants have guns and are shooting people, and police are afraid to do anything about it, Trump says.
9:47 – Did anyone else notice that the energy level dropped off a bit over the last few minutes?
9:44 – Trump won the first 30 minutes, but I think Hillary won the next 15. Next up – racism. This should be unpleasant.
9:40 – Here comes an effective line of attack on Trump — the people who got stiffed by his businesses. Frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this from Team Hillary. She’s doing an effective job attacking him on this point.
9:38 – Trump took a long time to loop around from tax returns to national debt. He took a pass on the e-mails, oddly.
9:35 – Hillary does a good job of making a series of assumptions about why Trump isn’t releasing his tax returns.
9:33 – Holt is digging on the tax returns, but Trump is defiant. Trump says he’ll release the returns when Hillary releases the 33,000 deleted e-mails, which got a cheer from the crowd. Holt then chided the crowd, which is supposed to keep silent.
9:31 – Trump hits Fed, and Obama’s golf game, in the same breath.
9:28 – If these are the scripted comebacks, Hillary needs to fire some speechwriters.
9:26 – Hillary: “Fact checkers, get to work!” Count that among the most ironic statements ever made.
9:25 – Dueling campaign fact-checks! Lester Holt is officially off the hook.
9:22 – “Is it President Obama’s fault? Is it President Obama’s fault?” Trump demanded when Hillary tried to distance herself from TPP. She’s not answering the question, and sounding like she’s afraid of taking a stand on TPP. Not a good look, and Trump’s aggressiveness is scoring points early.
9:21 – Oh my, Trump is pounding her on TPP and trade, and on her flip-flopping on it.
9:20 – Trump landed the first effective zinger of the night on her long experience of talking about issues without doing anything about them.
9:18 – Hillary promises to make us the green-energy superpower. If that sounds familiar, Barack Obama made the same promise eight years ago. It didn’t work out well, as Trump reminds Hillary, and she’s been around a long time without doing anything about it.
9:15 – Contra Hillary, the economic collapse didn’t result from not taxing people enough. It started in 1998 and the intervention (backed by both parties) to push mortgages and spiked demand to artificial levels in the housing market.
9:13 – Trump parries the small-business line by reminding Hillary that he transformed a relatively small inheritance and multiplied it exponentially, and says that’s what America has to do. He then challenged her on trade deals, at got very specific about a tax issue in NAFTA. Trump then effectively asked what Secretary Clinton has done about trade in “30 years” of work (more like 24 in Washington).
9:11 – Hillary tried out a new line “Trumped-up trickle down economics.” Delivered it badly, too. Did better talking about her father’s small-business experience.
9:09 – Trump hits trade imbalances with China and Mexico and says jobs are “fleeing the US.” Again, this is mostly a reiteration of his stump speech — but he did note that he and Hillary agree on paid family leave. He called for cutting the corporate tax while renegotiating our trade deals.
9:06 – First topic is jobs. Granddaughter mention right off the bat. Hillary then delivered her stump speech — a laundry list of disparate policies, such as profit sharing and paid family leave. Mostly it sounded like a State of the Union speech, but not in any compelling way. She finished up with a gracious greeting to Trump.
9:04 – In the Be Careful What You Wish For Department …
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) September 27, 2016
9:02 – CNN panel is still vamping. Why is their start delayed?
8:58 – Cortney O’Brien tells me that Trump invited one of the Gold Star mothers that spoke at the convention as his guest tonight.
8:55 – Here’s our final preview on Facebook:
Update, 8:07 ET: Getting ready to go live again on Townhall’s Facebook Live as CNN shows Donald Trump arriving at Hofstra. He’s wearing a blue tie rather than red, but that’s more of a corporate power-tie color. Join us at 8:20 ET for our second preview of the debate.
Are you ready for some [political] football? If you’re more ready for the other kind of football, the Falcons will take on the Saints in New Orleans, but most of us will have our eyes glued to the scrimmage taking place at Hofstra University. Townhall’s Guy Benson and Katie Pavlich will be on site at the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, while I will live blog the debate from the Townhall Media Group offices in Washington DC. Earlier this evening, Matt Vespa and Leigh Wolf joined me for a preliminary preview of debate, on Facebook Live through the Townhall page:
One of the major themes — at least in the media — is whether Clinton will get the respect she “deserves” from Trump. Maybe they’re looking in the wrong places for disrespect:
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 26, 2016
D’oh! I will also host another preview at 8:20 ET on Facebook Live with more of the Townhall crew, plus a 10:30 pm wrapup at the same page. Late last week, I offered my perspective on how Trump can win his first head-to-head debate:
Trump has to refocus that argument on the Clinton establishment and the corruption between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation – such as the discovery by the Washington Examiner that nearly 40 percent of State Department appointments to advisory boards went to foundation donors. Anti-establishment fervor drove the 2016 primary cycle and remains a potent force, and only Trump has an opening to define the election on those populist terms.
National security will play a big role in the debate, and that favors Clinton to some degree because of her four years as Secretary of State. Trump has openings there, too, especially when it comes to issues such as Libya and Egypt. Trump met with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi earlier this week, offering the firm friendship of the US in a Trump administration.
Trump should use that to remind viewers of the Obama administration’s disastrous Arab Spring policies, which turned Libya into a failed state and nearly did the same thing to Egypt, or worse, leaving it in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has spun off terrorists like Hamas and al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri. If Trump really finds his pace, he can challenge Hillary to name specific accomplishments from her tenure at State, especially in the realm of national security, as her surrogates continue to get stumped on that question.
All of this advice is predicated on Trump’s sense of discipline and preparation, and that’s based on his improved performance on the campaign trail since mid-August. Will he succeed in sticking to a strategy and win the debate? To parallel Silver, the Trump from six weeks ago might have had a one-in-ten shot, but the Trump – and Clinton – of late make it almost a 50:50 proposition.
As usual, updates to this post will take place in reverse chronological order at the top of the post, with the most recent on top. Be sure to keep up with all of my Townhall colleagues, too.