**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
On the roster: Hillary wins round one but Trump is far from done - The reviews are in - Early ratings suggest record viewership - Audible: ‘When they go low, we go high’ - How do you like me now?
HILLARY WINS ROUND ONE BUT TRUMP IS FAR FROM DONE
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Hillary Clinton can be happy today that she got the better of Donald Trump in the first of three presidential debates. But she ought to be a little concerned too.
Clinton successfully exploited Trump’s ego to keep the Republican nominee off balance and on defense throughout the evening.
Most notably, rather than shredding Clinton over her mishandling of state secrets on a personal email server, Trump passed up the chance in favor of defending his business record and decision to withhold his tax returns.
That carried over into today as Trump was still defending comments he made about the weight and appearance of a former contestant in a beauty pageant he ran.
During the debate, Clinton brought up Alicia Machado, who was Miss Venezuela twenty years ago, in Trump’s Miss Universe pageant. Clinton said Trump had called her, “‘Miss Piggy,’ then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping’ because she was Latina.”
On “FOX & Friends” today Trump was still talking about the claim and still attacking Machado: “She was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem. We had a real problem,’ Trump said. ‘Not only that, her attitude, and we had a real problem with her, so Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl -- this was many years ago. And found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Theresa.”
To say the least, this is not the right ground for a presidential candidate to be contesting the debate on the morning after. But it is indicative of how Clinton was able to trip Trump up in what started as a solid performance for the Republican.
It is evidently the Trump policy to allow no accusation to go unanswered, so Clinton was able to control the tempo of the debate. Trump had good lines that he had obviously rehearsed relating to Clinton’s decade upon decade in Washington which he contrasted to his own promise to be an agent of change.
Trump also could not pass up the opportunity to defend his claim that Clinton did not have “a presidential look.” Rather than playing off the question with a compliment for Clinton or a demurral, Trump wanted to be right again and waded into insults about Clinton’s stamina.
Remember the rule: you can be right or you can be happy, but not usually both.
But there’s lots for Clinton to be concerned about, most of all that this is only the first go around. As Mitt Romney found out in 2012, a good first debate is hardly predictive of future performances. Since Trump and his team evidently know that he did not win, one presumes that he will learn some lessons for the next debate. The first and most important is to not get distracted by Clinton’s jabs and stay on message.
Trump is also helped by the fact that the next debate on Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, has not only two moderators, but is a town hall format. Trump loves to play to an audience and will presumably enjoy the interplay with the questioners and the crowd.
He will have to be careful to not get carried away as he sometimes does answering questions, but overall the format should be well suited to one of America’s most successful reality show hosts.
If Clinton does, as expected, get a bounce out of the debate she better not get too cocky. Her worst moments in Monday’s debate were when she was gloating and taunting, including a little happy dance she did after scoring another point on Trump.
Politicians all say they’re going to run like they’re 10 points behind and take no votes for granted. Time and again, though, Clinton has failed to follow through.
Whether or not this debate changes the trajectory of the race will substantially depend how well Clinton conducts herself in the next two weeks and whether she arrives in St. Louis humble or hungry. Underdog is her most winsome persona.
THE RULEBOOK: ENERGETIC EXECUTIVE
“Those politicians and statesmen who have been the most celebrated for the soundness of their principles and for the justice of their views, have declared in favor of a single Executive and a numerous legislature. They have with great propriety, considered energy as the most necessary qualification of the former, and have regarded this as most applicable to power in a single hand, while they have, with equal propriety, considered the latter as best adapted to deliberation and wisdom, and best calculated to conciliate the confidence of the people and to secure their privileges and interests.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 70”
TIME OUT: SPEED DEMONS
German writer Norman Ohler’s new book, “The Total Rush” delves into drug use in Nazi Germany. Ohler gives the Guardian a look into the history behind his work: “At a company called Temmler in Berlin, Dr Fritz Hauschild, its head chemist, inspired by the successful use of the American amphetamine Benzedrine at the 1936 Olympic Games, began trying to develop his own wonder drug – and a year later, he patented the first German methyl-amphetamine. Pervitin, as it was known, quickly became a sensation, used as a confidence booster and performance enhancer by everyone from secretaries to actors to train drivers (initially, it could be bought without prescription). It even made its way into confectionery. ‘Hildebrand chocolates are always a delight,’ went the slogan.”
Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions
Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +2.2 points
[Polls included: Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, Bloomberg, WaPo/ABC, and McClatchy/Marist.]
THE REVIEWS ARE IN
Silver: Clinton should get a bump, but Dems should worry if she doesn’t - FiveThirtyEight: “What if Clinton doesn’t improve in the polls — or they even move toward Trump? Then that ought to be scary for Democrats, obviously. While Trump’s lack of preparation could also potentially cause him problems in the second and third debates, he showed off some of his worst qualities on Monday night, appearing to be the weaker leader than Clinton and less presidential than her, according to the CNN poll. If undecided and marginal voters were willing to shrug off Trump’s performance, then perhaps they really are in the mood for the sort of change that Trump represents, his faults be damned.”
Kraushaar: Clinton won, but it may not matter - National Journal: “Trump, despite his cavalier attitude beforehand, demonstrated a seriousness that was lacking throughout the Republican primary. He didn’t resort to immature insults, relying instead on prepared talking points. Most importantly, while he struggled to advance many of his arguments, his overall criticism of the administration’s handling of ISIS and the Iran deal, along with his references to racial unrest and rising crime, have the potential to win over undecided voters. Voters may credit Clinton with her knowledge of specifics, but many are closer to Trump on instinct. At a time when Americans want change, he came close to passing the admittedly low threshold of looking like an acceptable commander in chief.”
Hurt: Trump ‘tremendous’ and can get even better - WashTimes: “[Trump] was perfectly presidential, even if a bit unpolished at times — just the way so many of his supporters love him. He was poised and even a bit mannerly at times. Perhaps a bit too mannerly…Mrs. Clinton failed to do anything that will change the overwhelming view of her that she is slick, calculating and out of touch. And her plastic smile and that practiced, canned laugh — including a truly bizarre shoulder jiggle at one point — will only feed the notion that she is not really all there…In addition, Mrs. Clinton failed to land any devastating punches on Mr. Trump. She landed a few potent shots about his tax proposals and his tax returns, but nothing extraordinary.”
Fehrnstrom: Clinton will have to do better to stop her slide - Boston Globe: “If anyone expected a different Donald Trump to show up at Monday night’s debate, they would have been disappointed. Trump was like an excitable dog running around the house, jumping on people and sending grandma’s heirloom vase crashing to the floor. Still, it was good enough to fight Hillary Clinton to a draw…Clinton needed a big, defining moment and didn’t get it. The best she could do was point people to her website for fact-checking.”
EARLY RATINGS SUGGEST RECORD VIEWERSHIP
Entertainment Weekly: “Monday night’s showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton might really be the Biggest Debate Ever – but it probably won’t hit 100 million viewers. Early ratings suggest Monday’s face-off could perform higher than 2012’s first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – which is this century’s most-watched debate. According to the fast national numbers – which only include the broadcast networks (not the cable news networks) and are not yet adjusted for the various time zones – Monday’s 90-minute debate delivered at least 42.4 million viewers. That’s up from the same batch of early numbers in 2012. The Obama-Romney debate ultimately delivered 67 million viewers, which Monday’s debate is expected to easily beat.”
AUDIBLE: ‘WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE GO HIGH’
“Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?” – Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on Twitter Monday night commenting on Trump’s debate demeanor.
Trump says mic was defective - Politico
Hillary’s name misspelled on debate tickets - NYT
Trump surrogates admit he didn’t have a good debate - WashEx
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Ted Cruz has badly blotted his copybook -- first by refusing to endorse Trump at the convention, then by reversing field only when it became apparent that his sour behavior would lead to former Texas governor [Rick] Perry whupping him in the 2018 Republican primary for his Senate seat. The narrow path that he’s always had to the Republican nomination -- let alone the presidency -- has become the Biblical needle’s eye.” – Bob Foys, Chicago, Ill.
[Ed. note: You’re probably right, Mr. Foys, but as we have said a lot will depend on the outcome of the election. The worst case scenario for Cruz is now a Trump loss. He had set himself up to be advantaged in the Trump defeat as the ideological iconoclast. When he bowed to the pressures you described above he lost that territory. Now, Cruz needs a Trump win and then begin the work of setting up a primary challenge against an incumbent president for 2020.]
“I just had to tap this out from York, England to say as well, I can’t wait until I return to the USA to watch you on Sunday! You are brilliant and I love following you in any venue. Best of luck and keep us strong for the matches to come!” – Barbara Keating, Santa Barbara, Calif.
[Ed. note: Awwwww…you are so sweet to say so Ms. Keating. But hurry back, because we’re only on until the week after the election. I’m jealous of your current location, though, because I love the Viking museum.]
“I did not know [Arnold Palmer’s] background. My late father was a huge fan.” – Shari Murphy, Oklahoma City, Okla.
[Ed. note: It takes an amazing spirit to be both a great competitor and a great person. Palmer managed to do both and proved something which is sorely lacking in American sports and politics today: the ability to fight hard, leave nothing on the field, but do so with respect to the dignity of your competitors and their humanity.]
“Reading Halftime Report while I eat my lunch is routine. OMG! Your email was late, late today, Monday, so I had a difficult time eating. I actually had to look at the vegan stuff doctor said I must eat for 6 months due to cholesterol problem. Don’t always agree, but I do enjoy reading your report. Please try not to be as late.” – Gloria Garcia, San Jose, Calif.
[Ed. note: Heaven forfend! Had I know that the stakes were so high as to include looking at vegan menu options I would have forced the pilot to land the plane I was on Monday so we could’ve gotten out earlier. No human, and particularly none of our subscribers, deserve a fate such as that. Thanks for reading, we’ll step on the gas.]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?
Charlotte Observer: “A teenage surfer is in stable condition after he was bitten by a shark Monday at the same Australian beach where a Japanese surfer was fatally mauled last year, officials said. Cooper Allen, a 17-year-old high school student, was surfing with friends on the first day of the students’ spring vacation when he was attacked off Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach at midmorning, Ballina Mayor David Wright said…‘He should be OK. It was very close to his artery,’ Wright added….The state government last month abandoned plans to safeguard Lighthouse Beach with a 700-meter (770-yard) nylon shark barrier…Allen, who had been a friend of [the surfer killed last month], told The Australian newspaper in July that such a barrier would be a waste of money. ‘We still go out there without the net, at our own choice. I don’t think there is any need for it,’ Allen told The Australian.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.