I never saw the debate, I had a law class that ran through the debate. Here are two views from the same newspaper, the New York Post on how the debate was viewed by (a) members of the public and (b) the media:
YOUNGSTOWN, Pa. — Ken Reed sat down at the main bar of the Tin Lizzy tavern with two things in mind: to dig into the tavern’s oversize cheese steak, and watch the presidential debate.
“I am hungry and undecided, in that order,” he said, digging into the savory dish in a bar that dates back to 1746.
Kady Letoksy, a paralegal by day, a waitress and bartender at night at the Tin Lizzy, sat beside him. At 28, she has never voted before, and she is now thinking it might be a good idea to start.
Letosky entered the evening undecided in a town that is heavily Democratic in registration. Her sister and father are on opposite sides of the political aisle. Donald “Trump had the upper hand this evening,” she said, citing his command of the back-and-forth between him and Hillary Clinton.
Reed, 35, is a registered Democrat and small businessman. “By the end of the debate, Clinton never said a thing to persuade me that she had anything to offer me or my family or my community,” he said, sitting at the same bar that has boasted local icons as regulars, such as the late Fred Rogers, and Arnold Palmer, who had his own stash of PM Whiskey hidden behind newer bottles of whiskey for his regular visits.
“Have to say Trump had the edge this evening, he came out swinging but also talked about specifics on jobs and the economy,” Reed said.
How apropos for this presidential election that these patrons chose the Tin Lizzy — a 270-year-old tavern in this small Westmoreland County town — as the place to watch the historic debate between Clinton and Trump.
The tavern’s namesake is the Model T, the first affordable automobile available to America’s working class, which eventually became slang for something quite different.
If someone said you were “going the way of the Tin Lizzy,” it meant your job or industry was in decline, no longer useful.
That is how today’s cosmopolitan and political classes view Main Street voters — as people whose values, traditions, skills, jobs and lives are being replaced by something new.
“I’ve been a Democrat all of my life, but when Clinton mentions her husband and the jobs he brought to the country in the ’90s, it’s not a fair assessment. She is no moderate Democrat the way he was, her policies would not bring back jobs,” said Nathan Nemick.
It burns Nemick when Clinton references her husband, like she did in the debate on trade and jobs. “She is nothing like him,” he said of the Democrat he admired in his youth.
Pennsylvania is a high-stakes state for both candidates, but particularly Clinton, and Westmoreland is a high-stakes county, particularly for Trump.
Hillary Clinton was boring and exceptionally well-prepared. Donald Trump was exciting but embarrassingly undisciplined. He began with his strongest argument — that the political class represented by her has failed us and it’s time to look to a successful dealmaker for leadership — and kept to it pretty well for the first 20 minutes.
Then due to the vanity and laziness that led him to think he could wing the most important 95 minutes of his life, he lost the thread of his argument, he lost control of his temper and he lost the perspective necessary to correct these mistakes as he went.
Methodically and carefully, Hillary Clinton took over. Her purpose was to show she was rational and policy-driven, the kind of person who could be trusted to handle a careful and delicate job with prudence and sobriety — and that he was none of these things.
And she succeeded. By the end of the 95 minutes, Trump was reduced to a sputtering mess blathering about Rosie O’Donnell and about how he hasn’t yet said the mean things about Hillary that he is thinking.
Most important, he set ticking time bombs for himself over the next six weeks.
As she hammered him on his tax returns, he handed her an inestimable gift by basically saying he pays no federal taxes despite his billions — and moreover, that if he had done so, it would have been “squandered” anyway.
By the end of the 95 minutes, Trump was reduced to a sputtering mess blathering about Rosie O’Donnell and about how he hasn’t yet said the mean things about Hillary that he is thinking.
That’s not going to go away, nor is her suggestion that his refusal to release his returns is the result of his either not being as rich as he says or not being as charitable as he claims.
Clinton quoted him saying in 2006 that he hoped for a housing meltdown because it would provide buying opportunities and thereby goaded him into saying “that’s called business, by the way.” To which she quickly replied that 9 million people lost their jobs and 5 million lost their homes in the housing meltdown he was so excited about. Blammo.
His reply to Hillary’s recitation of the fact he’d begun his career settling a Justice Department lawsuit about racial discrimination in Trump housing was that there was “no admission of guilt,” which is the sort of thing the villain said at the end of “LA Law” and sounded no better in real life.
Even when he could have taken her down, he was so incompetent he didn’t go for it. A question about cybersecurity was the perfect opportunity to hammer Clinton on her outrageous mishandling of classified information.
Instead, he went into a bizarre digression in which he alternately wondered whether his son Barron might grow up to become a hacker and defended Vladimir Putin from the accusation Russia had tapped into the Democratic National Committee’s emails (which the FBI says almost certainly happened). That has to count as the biggest choke of his political life.
By the time the last 15 minutes rolled around, he was reduced to yammering about Rosie O’Donnell being mean to him and Hillary running mean commercials about him and praising himself because there are some really terrible things he could have said about Hillary but hasn’t. By this point, even his smart closing zinger — “she has experience but it’s bad experience” — was buried inside a weird word salad that reduced its effectiveness to almost nil.
His supporters should be furious with him, and so should the public in general. By performing this incompetently, by refusing to prepare properly for this exchange, by not learning enough to put meat on the bones of his populist case against Clinton, he displayed nothing but contempt for the people who have brought him this far — and for the American people who are going to make this momentous decision on Nov. 8.