How does a man whose brand is all about winning come to terms with defeat? After a widely panned performance in Monday’s inaugural presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave several contradictory answers.
At a rally with nearly 10,000 people in a hangar on the Florida Space Coast on Tuesday night, Trump repeatedly claimed victory, berated the media for covering his loss and offered excuses for his performance.
“I was also holding back, “ Trump said, in the familiar wording of a vanquished schoolyard bully. “I didn’t want to do anything to embarrass her.”
Trump went into Monday night’s debate in hopes of proving himself presidential before an audience that topped more than 81 million people on television alone. But over the course of 90 minutes, he grew impatient and fell into predictable traps set by his Democratic rival. Hillary Clinton’s weeks of preparation showed, as she deftly provoked a man who has never handled such prodding well.
Although supporters cast the outcome of the debate on predictable lines, pundits and insiders on both sides of the aisle generally agreed that Clinton won the face-off. A CNN poll of debate watchers found the same result, as did a focus group of undecided voters led by veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz.