Before the first one-on-one presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump the press consensus held that if the coiffured orangutan managed to refrain from throwing his own excrement around the stage his supporters could claim it as a victory. He did somewhat better than that last night, giving a respectable if typically bombastic performance. The businessman fired several effective barbs at Clinton in the first part of the televised encounter before – as predicted – loosing stamina or interest in the final third. The economy and domestic affairs were by far his strongest talking-points, national security and foreign relations by far his weakest. The former secretary of state’s patronising smirk throughout the proceedings may have gone down well with her prep-team but how will that have played with undecided voters? Grinning and laughing her way through Trump’s hokey contributions, or making references to fairly obscure past incidences of misconduct on his part, seemed a weak tactic. The Manhattan tycoon has a litany of more recent and relevant sins that could have been brought into play, and it is pretty clear by now that the further you dig into his controversial history the more disinterested the general public becomes.
However much of the US media believes that Hillary Clinton emerged as the winner in the debate, albeit by not much of a margin. My gut instinct says it was more of a draw. I think Donald Trump succeeded in consolidating – and perhaps widening – his “deplorable” base while doing enough to blacken Clinton’s reputation (and remember, these “shows” are more about presentation than substance) . Encouraging potential Democratic Party voters to head in the direction of the Libertarian and Green Party candidates is not a bad tactic for someone in his electorally weak position. Judge for yourself below.