Point of View Columns

Autopsy of a Debate – What Hillary Should Have Said

In the aftermath of the first presidential debate of 2016 there is no end of commentary, spinning, more commentary and more spinning. Upon reflection in the bright lights of the day, it would seem fair to say that if Hillary Clinton’s goal was to shake, rattle and roll Donald Trump then she definitely succeeded. If Donald Trump wanted to engrave his “Crooked Hillary” slogan into the consciousness of America, he was clearly waiting for the second debate to do so. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton left some money on the table as there were a few things that she should have said:

1. Presidential Look
When asked about his contention that Hillary Clinton did not look presidential, Trump said that she didn’t look presidential and didn’t have the stamina to be president. Hillary should have said:

“Donald, all 44 presidents of the United States have been male, 43 presidents have been white males. So I can understand why, from that limited perspective, a woman cannot look presidential. But I ask you to look around the world and through world history – Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Angela Merkel have all been successful leaders of their countries, and the citizens of those countries thought they looked quite presidential. And, by the way, since you seem to like Russia so much, have you ever heard of Catherine the Great?”

2. It’s Just Business
When Hillary mentioned his not paying contractors and employees, Trump said it was “just business”. Hillary should have said:

Donald, you say that you are a successful businessman, but most successful businessmen pay their bills, they pay their contractor and they most certainly pay their employees. Certainly there are disputes over performance and delivery of service in business, but you have had a unique capacity to attract litigation while putting small business people out of business and leaving entire communities worse off because your business practices – all anyone has to do is to ask the citizens of Atlantic City?

And, by the way Donald was it just business to operate Trump University, which was never a legal university? Was it just business to tell the students, actually the customers, of your fake university to max out their credit cards to learn the “secrets” of your success, secrets which turned out to be little more than rehashed versions of your speeches?

Tell the American people Donald, is this kind of business the American people can expect from you if you should, heaven forbid, ever sit in the Oval Office.”

3. It is Smart Not to Pay Taxes

When Hillary suggested that the reason that Trump is not releasing his taxes because he does not pay federal income taxes, Trump stated that this made him smart. Hillary did mention that this would mean that he had paid zero dollars in support of troops, veterans, etc. Hillary could have also said:

“So Donald, I guess that since most Americans do pay their federal taxes, that means that most of us aren’t as smart as you. I guess that means that, by your definition, if Americans were as smart as you, we could end up with a tax noncompliance crisis just like Greece. Is that how you want to make America great again Donald? Do you really want to make America like Greece?”

4. Being a Birther is a Good Thing
Donald Trump actually said that he did Barack Obama did Barack Obama a favor in “forcing” him to show his birth certificate. Here is what Hillary should have said:

“Donald, you will never cease to amaze the American people. Do you think that we don’t realize that during your lifetime, during which there have been twelve presidents, there has never been a question about the birth certificate of the eleven white presidents, only the one black president?

Do you think that the American people don’t realize that during your primary campaign, you never, never, never asked to see the Ted Cruz birth certificate even though everyone knows that he was born in Canada? Is it because you like Ted Cruz so much, or just that Ted Cruz is not black?

Maybe you are not as smart as the American people after all”

That’s what Hillary should have said….and may still say in the next two debates.

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