Clinton vs. Trump: Who was the winner?

By Rob Francis

Monday, Sept. 26. The first presidential debate in one of the most pivotal elections this country has ever seen. For the first time, as opposed to a roundabout of the stage, the debate is shown entirely in split-screen. Republican nominee, business mogul Donald Trump, stands on the left with a blue tie; Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stands on the right in a smart red dress.

Lester Holt hosts. Let the showdown begin.

Hosted by the PA Dems for Hillary Campaign at the Edinboro Hotel
 Bar, volunteers bustle around getting things ready in the private room for what is sure to be an exciting night. The volunteers are comprised of both women and men of all ages. Stickers, pamphlets and “Clinton-Kaine” signs are handed out as everyone signs in.

There is a very pro-Hillary feel to the atmosphere and absolutely no anti-Trump propaganda, as it should be. The campaign volunteers show
 an obvious love of Clinton but not in a crazed, radical way; they truly care about the outcome of this election and the future of this country.

When asked why she is voting for Clinton, Sue Wilson, 52, of Edinboro, believes she not only has the political experience but also “intellectuality and sensibility.”

“When faced with the indiscretions of Bill,” Wilson says, “she showed loyalty to him, herself, her daughter and did not let that dictate who she was. I respect that as a woman.”

Mary Jo Campbell, vice-mayor of the Washington Township Council and first vice chair of the Erie Dems, believes Clinton’s experience is “overwhelming” and truly admires her work with children, particularly CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

“I’ve always been a Democrat but never been more afraid if a Republican wins,” Campbell says. She cites that Trump’s foreign policies are “mammoth,” that her retirement, pension, and status as an elected official (being both a woman and the only Democrat on the council) will all be jeopardized and that Trump’s trademark “you’re fired!” attitude is reflected in his policies.

Campbell went on to quote President Obama by saying that “the dangerous part of Donald Trump is that he doesn’t know the issues and doesn’t care to know.”

As Holt introduces the night’s event, Clinton looks at him with attentiveness, Trump looks down at his podium.

The first issue is brought up: achieving prosperity.

“Thanks, Lester,” Clinton starts. “Donald, good to be with you.”

Of course she makes a remark that this is also her granddaughter’s second birthday, but ties that in to “what kind of country we want to be.”

In a dramatic gesture towards the audience that sparked a huge roar of support, Clinton gestured towards the audience and the camera and said the true key to prosperity is to “invest in you and your future!”

A speculated issue has finally come into clarity. Clinton’s solution to achieving prosperity for the U.S. is to invest more in technology, innovation and clean, renewable energy; equal pay for women and profit sharing are next on her list; “supporting the people who need it” by having the wealthy “pay their share” and closing corporate loopholes is a third.

Trump is up. His solution is simply to stop allowing jobs to flee the country and from being “stolen.” He states the U.S. truly has a winning fight, because we are a “piggy bank” for the rest of the world; in true Trump fashion, he made sure to say that “a friend of his” gave him an inside scoop on Mexico without elaborating on whom or what.

He finishes by saying his “plan” reduces taxes by 35 to 50 percent (without giving any specifics), will allow companies to build and expand under his presidency (without saying how), and that he agrees with Clinton on childcare issues.

The first question is done, both candidates having remained within their allotted times.

Jordan Steadman, 22, of Madison, Ohio, admires Clinton’s superior ability to be articulate. “[She] always form[s] complete sentences and complete[s] thoughts,” he said.

Unfortunately for Democrats, Clinton’s response was a little more focused on Trump-bashing than her stance on the issue. “Donald is proposing trickle-down economics,” she said. This system of “trumped up, trickle down” will not work, she explains, any more than it did for former president Ronald Reagan.

She nearly redeems herself, however, by saying that as five percent of the world population, trade is important to the U.S. and she plans for a tax system to reward work (again, no specifics).

The next topic is how each candidate plans to bring industries back to the U.S.

Trump’s response: “Don’t let them leave.”

Good plan, Don.

Then, in the dignified lingo of Donald Trump, which we have come to expect, he told us that he was going to cut taxes “bigly.” Yes, not greatly, not efficiently, but “bigly.” Grant you, bigly is a real word, an adverb meaning “in a big manner,” according to Merriam- Webster. But it’s not one people hear often and naturally it’s sparked some negative attention.

Trump and his son have both attempted to clarify that he did not say “bigly” while referring to fiscal policy but “big league.”

They should have stuck with bigly… at least that’s a word that made sense in context.

After this, the debate got a little murky. Both candidates went over their times and exerted too much effort attacking each other’s ideas without explaining what they would do. It was reminiscent of two children on the playground: little Donny saying “you’re doing this” and little Hilly saying “I am not!”

Of course, amongst the bickering and mud-slinging, the scandalous Hillary emails were brought to attention. Clinton simply acknowledged her “mistake of using a private email server” and offered yet another public apology.

To quote former Democratic foe Bernie Sanders: “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”

Seriously. Move on people.

As the debate raged on, Holt of course had to bring up international relations and the candidates’ stances and policies regarding NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Trump began by saying that he is a “business person” and thus has “common sense.”

“NATO could be obsolete...because they don’t focus on terror,” said the Republican, before adding that the U.S. needs NATO to help us “knock the hell out of ISIS,” which itself is an organization formed by the “vacuum caused by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

After some more attacks by Trump — all the while Clinton standing there in dignified silence with a tolerant smile — she finally was able to take a breath and say, “Wow, okay! Back to the issues...”

Laughter and applause abound from the bar and the television.

And back to the issue she went.

As per NATO Article V, an “attack on one is an attack on all.” Clinton clarified that the only time this article was invoked was after the unforeseen terrorism attack of 9/11.

Therefore, NATO has no business in the war between the U.S. and ISIS, a drastically different ideal than Trump’s. Rachel Lani, 24, of Edinboro, fears what a Trump presidency will do to the reputation of the United States.

“Every election is pivotal,” says Lani, “because the president represents us as a nation . . . [Trump] is a hate-monger, offensive and does not give a s--- about others.”

Steadman feels that under Trump his safety would be at risk. He states the LGBT community is already targeted, as well as those of different socio-economic levels. He says Trump is a business man and does not support his ethnocentrism of capitalism attitude.

Lani also notes Trump’s lack of self-awareness and ability to own his mistakes, which are antitheses of a great leader.

Clinton went on to say that during her tenure as secretary of state, she spent over a year and a half imposing the toughest sanctions on Iran in order to come up with a sense of peace between our two countries.

President Obama’s controversial Iran Deal, formulated and put into effect this past April, has been cause of speculation and criticism, particularly by the Republican Party. It is one of many instances that has led terrified (and misinformed) Americans to agree with Trump’s plan of “bombing the s--- out of them.”

But the sly Clinton headed off any arguments that could be brought up about this, by throwing in: “John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama put a
 lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot. That is diplomacy!”

Not seeing a way around that wall (pun intended), Trump again tried attacking Clinton by saying she lacks the “stamina” required to negotiate with competing countries such as Japan (even though she’s done it already).

No doubt this was a feeble attempt to get back at Clinton for her comments about his temperament (which he only verified).

At the close of the debate, Clinton said she will support the outcome of this election, regardless of what it may be, because she supports our democracy.

In an ultra-rare sign of humility, Trump also stated that he would “absolutely support” Clinton if she were to win because that’s what will “make America great again.”

“[Clinton] showed decorum and preservation,” Wilson adds. She hopes “Hillary will break the glass ceiling” as the first female President.

“Women perpetuate the species,” Wilson says. “We have to be strong... because of our children. [Clinton] has the political and personal experience.”

One cannot help but wonder if CNN (one host of the debate) was attempting to win undecided voters through a subtle form of subliminal messaging.

Clinton, for example, was on the right-hand side of the screen in a red dress (traditional “side” and color of the Republican party) while Trump, though right-wing, was on the left screen in a tie, the traditional blue of Democrats.

A post-debate interview in Florida showed 18 out of 20 previously undecided voters as pro-Hillary.

The selected individuals said the debate was “even-keeled” and that Clinton was “well-prepared” and “knowledgeable.”

This election is going to be a major turning point for our county. Let’s make the right choice, America.

Rob Francis is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be reached at