Debate Central: Ibbitson, Heffernan, & Leibovich Weigh in After Round One
Last night saw Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump trade verbal blows in the first of three Presidential debates as the world looked on. Who hit harder on key policy points? Who swayed the undecided vote?
The Lavin Agency’s whip-smart political speakers know what yesterday’s debate signifies for the upcoming election and for the future of America. Three have already voiced their opinions: John Ibbitson of The Globe and Mail, tech critic and author of Magic and Loss Virginia Heffernan, and New York Times Magazine chief national correspondent Mark Leibovich.
Ibbitson: Clinton “mopped the floor with” Trump
John Ibbitson is not one to mince words; to him, Clinton notched the win, plain and simple. She was “persistent, patient, and steady” where Trump was “loud, angry, rude, and boastful.” Although Ibbitson concedes that Trump “competently defended his positions on occasion,” his final assessment is that “only the most committed Trump supporter, or Clinton hater, could possibly be reassured by his performance or disconcerted by hers.” Read his full verdict here.
Heffernan: “The performer wilted; the bureaucrat stepped up”
Virginia Heffernan comes to similar conclusions as Ibbitson, though for different reasons. She argues that Trump’s downfall began when he “stray[ed] from the role he had played so many times on the debate stage during the primaries: performer.” Indeed, “that Trump-brand Trump slipped and slid, perhaps left wobbly without the crutch of a friendly crowd.” As for the Democratic nominee, “Clinton fell back on herself—a clear-eyed strategist, with unlovely Midwestern vowels and a map of geopolitics in her mind at all times.” It served her well. Heffernan’s full assessment is part of a roundup that can be found on Politico.
Leibovich: Clinton “good enough” to “fluster” Trump
For The New York Times, Mark Leibovich—who has been providing excellent coverage of the election campaigns for months—appeared on election-centric podcast “The Run-Up” to opine on last night’s events. His judgment? Trump “nailed” the opening economic questions, but “fizzled from there.” Questions about his tax returns, presidential temperament, and the “birther” controversy began to fluster the Republican candidate, and Clinton took the lead. “I’ve seen her crisper,” said Leibovich. “I don’t think she was at her best, but I also think she was good enough.” Enjoy Leibovich? Check out more of his on-point political writing in The New York Times Magazine.