Home Opinion Hillary vs. Trump: The First Debate

Hillary vs. Trump: The First Debate

by Tiffany Baskerville
Photo by Paul Morse Photo Courtesy: Atlantic Council (Flickr)

Photo by Paul Morse
Photo Courtesy: Atlantic Council (Flickr)

Hillary Clinton had amazing composure during the first presidential debate on Monday, Sept. 26. Whether or not you tuned into the debate, you probably already know all of the highlights. You heard about the drama and probably thought you were hearing about a new reality show, not a presidential debate. However, if you tuned in hoping to learn the candidates’ stances on important issues facing the United States, you were probably disappointed.

Scandals and opinions appeared more often than actual policies during the debate. Donald Trump was questioned heavily about his previous statements and actions, including his claim that climate change was created by the Chinese and his refusal to release his tax returns. His responses were filled with denial or complete avoidance of the original question.

Clinton faced similar questioning about her scandals, particularly in regard to using a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. This scandal has caused Clinton to lose credibility among Americans. However, when asked about the incident, she answered the questions directly and said she made a mistake and would “take responsibility for that.”

Though the scandals are different and negative in their own ways, the way each candidate handled being questioned about them was significant. No matter your political opinions on Clinton, she responded in a professional manner and accepted responsibility for her actions. Meanwhile, Trump wasn’t keen on the idea of admitting his mistakes and was rather fond of just stating, “Wrong!”

Clinton remained composed throughout the debate, much to the population’s surprise. To be able to keep a calm disposition when her opponent snubbed and blamed her was incredible. On the other hand, Trump conveyed more emotion when the insults turned to him. He interrupted Clinton many times and audibly scoffed at the things she said. He even resorted to calling her out for running mean commercials on him. Ironically enough, the commercials just include him speaking.

In the aftermath of the debate, some journalists accused Clinton of being “boring” and “over-prepared.” Many just accepted Trump’s behavior because they have come to expect it. Some journalists are claiming that Clinton needs to be more relatable and relaxed, especially if she wants more millennial supporters. Unfortunately, it won’t be that easy because of Clinton’s position in this election.

Whether voters want to acknowledge it or not, Clinton is put under a lot more scrutiny than Trump. She has been criticized by Trump for not having “the look,” and the media is always giving Clinton advice on how to better present herself.

Trump doesn’t face as much scrutiny because we’ve accepted his behavior. We know that he’s blunt and speaks without a filter, but it’s often swept under the rug. However, the second Clinton uses the word “deplorable,” the entire nation has something to say. If Clinton lost control of her composure for even a fraction of a second in this debate, the nation would lose it. She has to be “boring” and “over-prepared” or she won’t be taken seriously.

Trump is seen as entertainment and Clinton is seen as untrustworthy. Her campaign is so fragile right now due to an increase in third-party voters that she has to do whatever she can to gain supporters. Though journalists label her boring, I thought she did a decent job with discreet sass. She definitely won many people over with her great answer following Trump’s accusation of her lacking the “stamina” to be president.

But why does Clinton have to try so hard to gain these supporters? It could very well be because of gender. In male-dominated communities, it can be very difficult for a female to thrive. After all, Clinton made history as the first female presidential candidate of a major party and most media coverage only focused on her email scandal.

Keeping her composure and focusing more on her actual policies could help Clinton in the next two debates. Many public figures, including President Barack Obama and numerous celebrities, have shown their support for Clinton. If everyone is serious about her taking office, her temperament in the last debates could be the secret to success. Luckily, as we saw last Monday night, she is very strong in that category.

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