Donald Trump declared himself the unquestionable winner of his first debate against Hillary Clinton during a rally Tuesday night, then relived the entire debate before a Florida crowd of supporters, this time with the help of a teleprompter – and without Clinton baiting him.
The Republican presidential nominee ticked down a list of issues he failed to sufficiently hammer Clinton on during their 90-minute bout – from her foreign policy failures to her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. He also insisted on defending two factually incorrect statements he made the previous night.
Trump touted unscientific, online post-debate polls as “things of beauty.”
He also again claimed to be “holding back” during the faceoff because he “didn’t want to do anything to embarrass” Clinton. That comment came after blaming debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News for being tough on him earlier in the day,
“For 90 minutes I watched her very carefully and I was also holding back. I didn’t want to do anything that embarrassed her,” Trump said Tuesday. “For 90 minutes, she argued against change, while I called for dramatic change. We have to have dramatic change.”
But while he spent much of the debate on the defense, Trump was free to unleash on Clinton without abandon as he rallied thousands of supporters Tuesday night in an airplane hangar.
He slammed Clinton for having “defended every major failure she helped create,” placing particular emphasis on Clinton’s track record as secretary of state.
“Iraq and Libya are in chaos,” Trump said. “Here in America we’ve seen one Islamic terror strike after another.”
Trump pointed to Clinton’s decades-old career in the political spotlight – arguing she has not accomplished enough, and failed too often, in that time period.
“I kept saying for 26 years you’ve been doing nothing,” Trump said. “She’s the candidate of yesterday. And ours is the campaign and we’re the people of the future.”
Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas and then the United States before she was elected for the first time to public office in 2000 as a US senator from New York.
And while Clinton made it through the debate on Monday with relatively few attacks from Trump on the subject, on Tuesday, Trump attacked her over her email practices, including her false assertion she neither sent nor received information marked classified.
“Another Crooked Hillary lie,” Trump said. “Have you ever seen a greater embarrassment to our country?”
Clinton is “an insider fighting only for her donors and insiders,” Trump said, touting his outsider status.
But Trump also entrenched himself on two issues the debate’s moderator, Holt, called out on for being factually inaccurate. He insisted the stop-and-frisk practice used in New York City that a federal judge ruled unconstitutional in 2013 was constitutional. And he argued that he was “against going into Iraq,” even though he did not publicly oppose the war before it started, expressed support for it a month before Congress voted to approve military force and even praised the invasion as a “tremendous success.”
And earlier in the day, as the Clinton campaign sought to highlight disparaging comments Trump made about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, Trump reiterated his criticism.
“She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem,” he said on “Fox and Friends.”
Trump on Tuesday also returned to his characterization of the press as “the most dishonest people I’ve ever dealt with” and, as he continued to review the previous night’s debate, suggested Clinton’s success was tied to the “mainstream media.”
“Without the mainstream media, folks, she wouldn’t even be here. She wouldn’t even have a chance,” Trump said.
But Trump also signaled that he and his campaign took note of his strongest moments in the debate.
Trump hammered home his commitment to addressing trade imbalances Tuesday night and pointed to his back-and-forth with Clinton over trade, particularly when he called her out for calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal the “gold standard” of trade agreements. Clinton now opposes the TPP trade deal.
“The American people rendered their verdict. The post-debate polls as I said to you were so great, but we exposed Hillary Clinton’s real position on NAFTA which was by the way the single worst deal as you’ll ever see and Trans-Pacific Partnership – another great disaster that she lied about,” Trump said.