Donald Trump has long had a strained relationship with the truth, and that didn’t change during Monday’s debate. His arguments continued to build upon falsehoods as the debate wore on, as opposed to Clinton who progressively improved throughout the night.
Trump started the debate out on top — confident, calm and surprisingly coherent — but as many anticipated, that didn’t last long.
As the debate got underway, Clinton took the lead, making plenty of mistakes herself, including not challenging some of Trump’s unfounded claims. Still, her firm grasp of policy and her obvious preparation quickly became clear. Meanwhile, Trump continually failed to answer even the most basic questions.
While Trump was still full of bluster and bravado, Clinton made one of her best points of the night. She asserted that in the next several years a country would emerge as “the world’s clean energy superpower”, and she sees no reason why it can’t be the U.S. She tackled job growth and clean energy in one breath with a brief explanation of her clean energy plan, which includes how she plans to expand our nation’s clean energy infrastructure and manufacturing to create jobs.
Trump, meanwhile, was in the midst of losing his composure and retreating into his comfortable space of lies, exaggerations and unexplained, quietly uttered wrong’s.
When he mocked Clinton for not being on the road as much in the past several weeks, Clinton had one of her several mic-drop moments of the night. “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.”
While Trump was congratulating himself for taking “advantage of the laws of the nation” to avoid paying federal income tax, Clinton moved toward another of her strongest moments of the night: Discussing the implicit racism that is growing more and more apparent in our nation.
Clinton took care to outline her plan and to emphasize that this issue is not exclusive to the police. We all have inherent bias, and until we include ourselves in our examination of the problem, we are failing. Trump spent his time talking about his endorsements, why the system is currently failing — it’s Obama’s fault, obviously — and talking about his plan to implement stop and frisk policies in problem areas. Stop and frisk, as mentioned by Lester Holt, has been shown to disproportionately target minority men.
Both candidates performed better than anticipated, but Clinton grew more assertive and self assured as the evening progressed, as opposed to Trump who gradually lost his composure. Trump’s own phrase best describes every answer that came out of his mouth — “semi-exact” — his favorite kind of fact. If you want a leader who prefers fully exact facts, make sure that you are registered to vote this November. And when November comes, vote. Vote as though your lives depend on it, because in this crazy election, they just might.
Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter @NahilaBonfiglio