As the dust settles from the first of three presidential debates between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, the margins between both candidates has markedly narrowed.
While US voters digest the barbs traded between the two rivals, accusations of racism, sexism, tax avoidance, negligence or even low stamina, opinion polls have Hillary Clinton holding a slight advantage.
Clinton retains the lead with 48 percent of opinions polled, while Trump trails two points behind with 46 percent.
How the UK has responded
Globally speaking the performance of the two candidates appeared mediocre according to Guardian columnists following the debate. Neither candidate stood out effectively. Faults were found with each, even if Clinton appeared the overall winner..
Guardian political columnist, Jill Abramson, said Trump was “rude” and Clinton “too pleased” with herself. Monday’s debate was “not uplifting” and Trump became “unhinged” as he interrupted Lester Holt, the debate’s moderator. Clinton failed “once again” to articulate clear policy points on how she would run the United States.
Guardian writer Steven Thrasher, calling Trump a “troglodyte,” said the Republican candidate blundered through the first debate – appearing “blustering” and “dour”. But Thrasher recognises Trump represents for some American voters a certain image of what they would like to be – “future rich people” – and maybe this fantasy can carry him to the White House.
Conservative strategist Christopher Barron writes Clinton failed to differentiate herself from current President Barack Obama. He says Clinton appeared “adversarial, prosecutorial and at times sanctimonious”. She came off as the “smartest kid in class”, but that unfortunately the smartest don’t always win “many popularity contests”.
Hillary Clinton “was likely to be the happier of the two candidates”, writes The Times, suggesting Trump left the debate rattled after Clinton successfully disrupted “Mr. Trump’s attempts to appear statesmanlike”. The Times is quick to point out, however, that even if Clinton is the debate’s winner, a clear “knockout blow” was missing from this first debate.
The Telegraph contends Monday night’s debate could reverse a string of poor headlines and performances that have surrounded the Clinton camp over the previous couple of weeks. The consensus at The Telegraph office is that Clinton won the debate – but with a caveat.
Observers, writes The Telegraph’s Tim Stanley, may need to remember the United States is “not a country where politicians battle over ideas in a neutral marketplace with an objective, largely centrist audience choosing between them. The well has been poisoned by TV. Increased partisanship means people are tuning in to see characters they already hate get eviscerated, not arguments well made. Trump was a serious presidential candidate in large part because he starred in The Apprentice – because he played a boss on television and so could, in theory, do it in real life”.
How France has responded
Like their counterparts across the channel, Le Monde has given first debate to Hillary Clinton and wonders if this will be the start of the Clinton camp strengthening its slender lead in the race to the White House.
Donald Trump, writes Le Monde’s Gilles Paris, was often on the defensive, especially as he was pressed to explain his stance on the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The debate could have been a good moment for Trump to showcase and take advantage of his “outsider” anti-Washington image, but this “game of mirrors did not turn to his advantage”.
Characterising the debate as ‘muscled’ and ‘electric,’ Le Figaro mirrors the sentiments of Le Monde stating Trump appeared defensive. It cites a CNN opinion poll that found Clinton won the exchange. Out of 521 polled voters, 62 percent favoured Clinton verses 27 percent for Trump.
Liberation takes note of Clinton’s aggressive performance compared to that of Trump’s, and writes the former First Lady was “visibly better prepared” than her opponent. But Trump scored some points in focusing on job creation and job losses to overseas markets like China, which, according to Trump, disadvantage communities in key swing states like Ohio and Michigan, which he made a point of mentioning directly.
In the end, writes Liberation, Clinton’s “pugnacity” will be remembered against a Trump unable to break away from his “discursive” strategies.
How the US has responded
The Los Angeles Times
According to observers of the LA Times, the debate was a clean sweep for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Politics columnists Cathleen Decker and Doyle McManus along with Washington Bureau Chief David Lauter agree Clinton won based on her temperament, her policy experience and her sustained attacks in baiting her opponent. Trump’s perhaps unwitting admission he does not pay taxes, and his argument with moderator Lester Holt in which he denied supporting the invasion of Iraq (when in fact he had) did not do him any favours.
The Washington Post
The Post writes Donald Trump was not as prepared as his opponent for questions “he had to know were coming”. When both candidates appeared on screen, Trump appeared less presidential than Clinton who was “terrific” on forcing Trump to rely on “his worst instincts”.
But even if the trend among most major news outlets either points directly at, or leans towards, Clinton being the winner of the first debate, what the average US electorate had to think shows a different story.
In unscientific online polls Donald Trump came out on top in a fair few.
Drudge Report, famously conservative and right-leaning in the United States shows Donald Trump clearly in the lead.
But CNBC, accused of left-leaning bias during one of the Republican primary debates, and which is mostly known for its business coverage, gave Donald Trump the win on Monday night.
They also reported Trump generated more online traffic than did Clinton. Whether that will translate into more support is yet unknown.
So too did Time Magazine
International markets, however, had a different response.
Mexico’s currency jumped up in value, a suggestion that international markets favour Clinton as a status-quo candidate.
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