Tens of Millions Watched First Presidential Debate

By David Cruz

The highly-anticipated clash between Secretary Hillary Clinton and real estate developer Donald Trump lived up to the hype, if not in substance, necessarily, then certainly in heated television moments. With an audience in the tens of millions, it was the first opportunity for many to see the candidates side by side and what they saw was a real contrast, in both presentation and preparation.

“There were components of the debate, in the beginning, where I thought that Donald Trump was actually doing much better than I may have anticipated based upon prior debate performances,” observed Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi. “I thought Hillary was coming across too well rehearsed, too robotic and I think a lot of people have made that comment as well.”

But the consensus among many observers was that Trump peaked early and that, after putting Clinton back on her heels, he failed to land a knockout blow.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg is a Clinton stalwart.

“The first few minutes I was taken aback. I thought, gee, he sounds organized, like he’s ready, but that didn’t last too long,” she said. “Trump was Trump. He was at times almost irrational, twitching, moving all around, interrupting. I thought she was clear, straight, intellectually grounded and hopefully we’re looking at the next president of the United States when we look at Hillary Clinton.”

On whether Trump was sufficiently prepared for the contest — some pundits suggested he wasn’t — Schepisi replied, “I think in the beginning he appeared to be more prepared. I think as the night went on, he did not. I think that’s something where, between now and the next debate, whoever is his team around him has to drill down upon facts.”

In this election, where the first woman from a major political party is standing for the presidency, the question of gender, and how Donald Trump treats and refers to women, was certain to come up. The question and answers made for one of the night’s most talked-about moments.

“Earlier this month you said she doesn’t have a presidential look. She’s standing here right now; what did you mean by that?” asked moderator Lester Holt of NBC News.

“She doesn’t have the look; she doesn’t have — the stamina,” responded Trump. “I said she doesn’t have the stamina and I don’t believe she does have the stamina.”

To which Clinton replied, “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease fire, a release of dissidents and 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.”

So, after the first debate, is Schepisi — one of those Republican holdouts — ready to pull the lever for Trump?

“Donald Trump was not my first choice, my second choice or my tenth choice for president,” she admitted. “I am however a Republican and, in supporting my party, I am going to support the entire ticket.”

There are two debates left. That’s plenty of time for the effects of last night’s debate to wear off, and plenty of time for the winner and loser, whoever you think he or she may be, to turn it around.