Hillary Won, But Trump Helped His Campaign • LifeZette
This is excerpted from LifeZette's Debate Squad: Trump-Clinton Draw, Holt Loses
She won the debate, but he helped his campaign.
Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump personally, and he spent way more time defending himself than he should have, in part because he did not have pithy responses to deflate the attacks.
And still, she didn’t make the case that she wasn’t more of the same, or that she was trustworthy — so her largest liabilities remain.
Nor did she make Trump seem dangerous. Because that was his challenge: Could he seem rational, to parry the dangerous and crazy meme? That was far more important for him than zinging her on points.
It’s why his campaign likely suggested he say that he was restraining himself from going after her — because "restraint" isn’t the first word one thinks of coming after "Trump." It’s also, I suspect, why he didn’t attack Clinton more. Yes, he took her on somewhat, dominating the microphone with interruptions and filibusters, but just enough that his own team would think "yes, our guy." But not so much that he would give anyone fodder for going after him.
That’s because his pitch in the first debate was not to his base.
He’s in it to win, and playing the long game. The expectations for him for the second debate are now quite low, and he has room for improvement, while everyone has now been reminded of how good a debater Mrs. Clinton is. Now all Trump needs is a good writer of presidential caliber zingers to help him soar in rounds two and three.
Heather Richardson Higgins is president of Independent Women’s Voice, a non-partisan, non-profit organization for mainstream women, men and families in Washington, D.C.