After all the hype, and an estimated one hundred million viewers in the US alone, did the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump deliver the goods?
Well, yes and no, but mainly no. Barring a monumental moment where Trump actually pulled out his manhood to compare it to the size of his hands, or Clinton collapsing and dying on stage, it was never going to.
What we got instead was an entertaining, but hardly surprising performance, from both of the candidates.
Trump started the debate the stronger of the two, counterpunching well when Clinton taunted him on his privileged upbringing, by pointing out his outsider status and highlighting his opponents ‘all talk and no action’ political sensibilities.
He also interrupted Clinton consistently during the opening exchanges, in what looked to be an attempt to put the candidate off her well-prepared talking points.
Clinton seemed unprepared for these attacks from a noticeably un-orange Trump. Perhaps she had practised against an orange debate partner and was thrown by his appearance during the first half hour?
Whatever the case, after the opening exchanges she eased into proceedings, and the rest of the debate saw Trump on the defensive.
Seizing on his thin skin, Clinton was able to get Trump spending his time explaining away bad business deals, his penchant for nuclear war, and the many terms he uses to describe the women in his life he so cherishes. Trump allegedly called a former Miss World contestant (who also happens to be Latino) ‘Miss Piggy’ and nicknamed her ‘Miss Housekeeping’ giving Clinton some easy point scoring ammo.
Immediately after the debate, Republican analysts bemoaned the moderator Lester Holt’s bias against Trump. Mainly for raising Trump’s failure to release his taxes and his attacks on Obama’s citizenship, while never questioning Clinton’s recent health and email scandals.
The Trump campaign may have a point here, but a more skilled and prepared debater would have worked these issues into the debate in a more substantive and damaging way than Trump was able to.
It is hard to see much changing in the way of polls after this debate, with Clinton coming out slightly ahead, but neither candidate managing to land a deadly blow.
The next debate is on Monday, October 10 at 2pm our time. Here we will learn the answer as to whether the Donald will revert to his old makeup artist, and if Clinton will finally take the plunge from pantsuit to spacesuit.