2016 Final Presidential Debate – Analysis

Last night, as we stated in our earlier article, “Tonight’s Final 2016 Presidential Debate,” (Stewardship America 2016), Donald Trump needed to focus on three issues, namely, jobs, corruption, and security.

Trump was masterful in his discussion of the economy and jobs, highlighting trade deals with China, and Mexico, that have been detrimental to the US financially and for job creation. He also discussed his tax proposals that would stimulate investment at home. Clinton had no real plan to create jobs in the private sector, where job creation must occur for short and, more importantly, long-term economic growth. Trump’s business experience sets him apart from Clinton on resolving the tremendous jobs problem in the US economy.

Trump articulated the corruption associated with the Clinton e-mails and private server, and also referenced the Clinton’s failed financial assistance activities with Haiti, in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Trump even suggested that Clinton should not be able to run for the presidency, given her corrupt activities related to the private server. Clinton’s retort blaming Russia for e-mail disclosures, is generally is not a persuasive response.

In the foreign policy arena, Trump was perhaps his most effective. He declared that Secretary Clinton and President Obama bore the responsibility for the failure and chaos in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, all impelled by the pullout of US troops in Iraq. He also adeptly articulated that our NATO allies, Saudi Arabia, and Japan must pay their equitable share of the costs of protection by the US military. Clinton tried to cast Trump as a prospective puppet of Russian president Vladimir Putin; but this attempt was not successful as Trump has no relationship with Putin, and while expressing hope for a harmonious relationship with Russia, has not made any policy promises whatsoever. Trump’s approach to Russia is essentially, “We’ll see.” Most importantly, Trump emphasized his commitment to destroy ISIS – an immediate threat to American citizens. Clinton has little credibility on this issue, given her connection with the Obama Administration policy, and the spread of ISIS in the region while she was still Secretary of State. Trump’s policy of sealing the nation’s borders, stopping the flow of Syrian refugees, and rebuilding the US military sells well with voters at a time when they are fearful of the growing threat from ISIS.

The criticism of Trump’s performance relates to his refusal to pledge acceptance of the November 8th election results, in the event he loses the race. Clinton proclaimed that his refusal was “horrifying!” Yet, no one should be surprised if this criticism is not widely shared, particularly when people are reminded that such a position is not unprecedented. Veteran Democratic Party pollster Pat Cadell, in defending Trump’s “wait and see” approach to the election results, stated, “All he said was, ‘I’ll wait and see what the results are,’ which is a reasonable position, I suppose,” also pointing out that Democrats challenged the results of the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. (Cadell, Breitbart 2016) This sentiment was echoed by Governor Mike Huckabee who supported Trump’s posture earlier today, when he tweeted, “Hillary horrified any major party candidate would challenge results of a presidential election. Has she never met Al Gore?” Huckabee was referring to the 2000 Bush verses Gore presidential election, when Gore refused to accept the election result, called for, and received, a recount in the state of Florida. In addition, recently publicized video by James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, (Warning: video has profane language.) make Trump’s posture not only reasonable, but prudent, given that a Democratic Party operative is seen discussing how voter fraud is committed.

All factors considered, Trump had a strong performance last night, and likely helped his candidacy for president.

By Allen Sutton