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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trump and Miss Universe


Hillary Clinton won the debate at Hofstra Univesity in New York

Donald Trump's debate undermined his narrative. Indeed, Trump acted like the angry leader of an orchestra or as though he were swatting away a nasty wasp...in fact, he was an angry white male.

Miss Universe certainly has something to say to Donald Trump!
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Beautiful Alicia Machado was insulted by Donald Trump

Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who was insulted by Donald Trump for gaining weight, has emerged after Monday's debate as a high-profile Hillary Clinton backer.

Clinton's campaign arranged a press call on Tuesday in a bid to needle Trump, who acknowledged Tuesday morning he was rattled when Clinton referenced Machado at the presidential debate at Hofstra University, in New York.

Shamed and Angry: Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe Mocked by Donald Trump

In fact, the morning after his first debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump complained Tuesday of “hostile questions” from the moderator and conceded that Clinton rattled him by bringing up his past remarks about the weight of a Miss Universe contestant.

The Republican presidential nominee said the moderator, NBC anchor Lester Holt, leaned left in his questions. 

Specifically, he cited questions about Trump’s record of challenging whether President Obama was born in America, (aka "birtherism") housing discrimination suits filed against Trump by the Justice Department, and his refusal to release his tax returns.

“Those questions aren’t answerable in a positive light,” Trump told Fox News in a telephone interview Tuesday morning. (Hello?)


Right after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race for president in 2016, Mr. Trump held a news conference at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he talked about the “two Donald Trumps.”

But those of us who followed him closely — know how Donald trump can be prickly and thin-skinned, casually cruel and dismissive. He can be boisterous and rowdy, but sometimes even fun and energetic. 

Moreover, like Nazi beer hall rallies, he has amassed thousands in arenas to a frenzy with his words, then days later delivered a speech directly from a teleprompter. He can appear to be compassionate and gentle in one moment, then insult Hispanics and denegrate women the next.

The Donald J. Trump on display during the debate Monday night was one we rarely glimpse.

If “Trump the Candidate” is often an outsize caricature of Donald J. Trump, the New York businessman, then “Trump the Debater” was the opposite of outsize: a subdued, scowling titan, stuffed into a black suit, straining at the seams as the debate at Hofstra University wore on.

“He will either be really good or really terrible,” one Trump confidant told me just hours before Monday’s debate. Like others in Mr. Trump’s orbit, this adviser could not predict what would come of the candidate’s lackadaisical preparation for what may prove to be the most important 90 minutes in his public life.

In the end, he was neither.

The answer to the core questions — could Mr. Trump comport himself as disciplined “Teleprompter Trump” without the aid of actual teleprompters, and could he appear plausibly presidential opposite Hillary Clinton — came early in the debate. And the answer, at least for the first portion of the debate, was yes.

By the standards Mr. Trump, his team and we in the news media seemed to have set for the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump cleared the bar. He stayed more or less in control, never directly insulted Mrs. Clinton and did not create new controversies over policy.

Nevertheless, for those who spent hours following Mr. Trump from state to state and rally to rally, he seemed a shadow of his campaign trail self. (In my opinion, Donald Trump is experiencing candidate fatigue...he has no credible surrogates to carry his message.)

He mentioned jobs fleeing south to Mexico in his third sentence (including one in which he thanked the debate moderator), but was largely restrained and even dour during the first 20 minutes of his face-off with Mrs. Clinton. He narrowed his eyes and seemed to glower at his rival, but he made a point, at first, of calling her “Secretary Clinton” (not his preferred moniker, “Crooked Hillary”).

Gone were the exaggerated gestures we Trump-watchers have seen on the campaign trail and in the early primary debates. There, Mr. Trump raises a lone index finger; he pinches together forefinger and thumb; and he unleashes a quick, openhanded karate-chop, like a conductor of an angry orchestra or a man swatting away a wasp.

But on the debate stage, he leaned heavily into his lectern, gripping the sides with both hands, as if his bulk could help gird against a moderator gently guiding him back to the questions at hand and a nimble if dispassionate rival. It was a telltale sign of exertion, of a man leaking energy rather than gaining it from the thrum of his cheering crowds.

After all, Mr. Trump is the consummate "you're fired!" salesman, always marketing, wooing and cajoling in an effort to win over his immediate crowd. At rallies, even when reading his cues, he often circles back on a line, or repeats a phrase or question for emphasis, just to engage the hall and get people roaring, like they're at a beer hall rally.

His supporters come primed for call and response, knowing when to shout “Trump! Trump! Trump!” (to drown out a protester) (like gorillas in a zoo!) and what the appropriate answer is to his inevitable question of who is going to pay for the anti-immigraiton wall (“Mexico!”).

But the audience at Hofstra had been instructed several times not to applaud, and they largely obeyed. When they did, it was generally for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump seemed to miss the instant gratification, and flagged at times without the affirmation he craves.

He first hit his stride roughly 20 minutes in, when he went after Mrs. Clinton over a frequent target of his candidacy, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and grew more confident and animated, pointing and talking over his opponent. Later, he again gained momentum when he attacked Mrs. Clinton for deleting 33,000 emails as secretary of state — finally drawing audience applause.

As the debate wore on, Mr. Trump seemed to allow his irrepressible self — his politically incorrect id familiar to voters and those of us who cover him — to break through.

He spoke of being “underleveraged,” and interjected “that’s called business, by the way” when Mrs. Clinton accused him of rooting for the housing crisis back in 2006.

He used the presidential forum to plug his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington — a routine campaign publicity stunt.

Turning to Charlotte, N.C., a city roiled by violence and protests after the fatal police shooting of a black man, Mr. Trump couldn’t help but return to his own business interests, calling it “a city I love, a city where I have investments.” And talking about gun violence in Chicago, he took care to mention that he has property there, as well.

He could not restrain himself from making a joke about a hypothetical fat person, saying that the recent spate of political email hacks could have just as easily been perpetrated by the Russians as by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, O.K.?”

And as the debate progressed, he began interrupting — more than two dozen times in all — talking over Mrs. Clinton when he had what he felt was a better point to make, or to call her assertions “wrong, wrong.”

By the end, he questioned her stamina — enunciating each word, in a campaign trail favorite — and alluded to her husband’s infidelities, by talking about how he wasn’t going to talk about them.

That is the Mr. Trump the reporters covering him know, the one who skates dangerously close to the line — of sexism, of incivility, of boorishness — and then barrels gleefully over it. 

(I must admit, Hillary Clinton was prepared for the potential of hearing these slanders and it's my opinion that Donald Trump was, indeed, fearful of what she prepared for her response.)

In the “spin room” after the debate, Mr. Trump, who often blames his campaign shortcomings on others, including the “dishonest” media “scum,” returned again to his comfort zone, wondering aloud if he may have been intentionally given a “defective” microphone.

In the end, his debate performance did not quite live up to his bluster and braggadocio (although he did once use the word “braggadocious,” referring to his business acumen).

He did not necessarily win, he did not necessarily lose.

Among some of us who cover him, there was an early debate about whether Mr. Trump was saying “bigly”or “big league” when he described something huge — a phrase he even used during the debate to refer to the impact of his tax cuts as president.

But as reviews came in after the debate, it seemed clear that Mr. Trump’s performance was neither “bigly” nor big league.

In fact, he lost the debate at Hofstra, he was knocked off his equilibrium by the mention of Alicia Machado and he was totally unprepared to respond to Hillary Clinton's prepared presentation. Donald Trump is unqualified to be the leader of the free world.

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