Unsurprisingly, Trump did not knock Hilly out in the first debate. As even Mark Shields at PBS said, Trump won the first third but faltered in the second and third.
Hilly was better than I expected her to be. (Weirdly enough, she had a bit of the Jane Fonda in “Grace and Frankie” thing going on.) Trump was his usual aggressive self but, while he could run over the moderator at will, he didn’t land many punches past the first third.
Now there will likely be complaints about the questions and about how the moderator let Hilly run on; but what in fact happened is that Trump missed opportunities. He missed tying cybersecurity to Obama’s giving up American control of ICANN (aka the internet). And he was not deft enough to use that question to pivot onto Hilly’s risking America’s security with her home brew server. He hammered her for the fact her employees took the Fifth but he missed the opportunity to nail her with Comely or Mills having been given immunity.
My bet is that the media will spin this as a big win for Hilly. It wasn’t but the fact that she stood up and counter punched will be enough to push the narrative forward. Which would be damaging to Trump if this was the only debate. But it isn’t. There are two more.
Trump is smart enough to watch the game tapes and figure out where he missed targets and how to hone the attack.
I think we have seen the top of Hilly’s game tonight. Tonight she was about as good as she is likely to get. I don’t think we saw Trump’s “A” game.
One other thing to note: it was not a very interesting debate. Which will mean that a good deal of the TV audience will not have stuck it out for the whole thing. People who watched the first third might well have come away thinking The Donald had won and will be astonished to read in the paper that Hilly pulled it out. Mistrust grows.