Donald Trump’s First Presidential Debate Performance Was an Absolute Disaster

If you haven’t read my full summary of the first presidential debate, feel free to check it out here. However, I felt that Donald Trump’s performance was so awful that I needed to elaborate a bit more than I did previously.



Let me start off by saying that, for the first 15 or 20 minutes, Trump did well. Then again, he wasn’t acting like the person who he really is. It didn’t take long before we saw the real “Donald J. Trump” who we’ve all come to know and loathe.

He claimed he never said that climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese — he did. He claimed he can’t release his tax returns because they’re being audited — he can. He said that “politicians” are responsible for outsourcing our jobs — most of his companies outsource production to overseas companies. When he was accused of not paying income taxes — he said “that’s smart,” never denying Clinton’s accusation was true. When the birther issue was brought up, he bragged about getting President Obama to release his birth certificate — when that’s not remotely true. He claimed Hillary Clinton was the person who started the birther conspiracy — also not remotely true. When he was accused of racial discrimination in the 70’s — his excuse was basically that everyone was doing it, never denying it. He claimed that sinking an Iranian naval vessel wouldn’t start a war — when it most definitely would. When the DNC hacks were brought up and how all signs point to Russia being behind them — he said that it could have been some “400 pound” person laying in their bed, continuing his defense of Putin.

The list goes on and on — it was embarrassing. Then again, this is exactly what I thought it was going to be like.

Throughout Donald Trump’s entire campaign he’s never been put in a position where he had to be specific, elaborate and couldn’t hide among a crowded group of candidates like he could during the GOP primaries. He was forced to be more than an insult machine — and he failed miserably. The moment he moved away from his clearly planned “calm and collected” persona going into this debate (quickly taking Clinton’s bait to go off-script), it was all downhill.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever viewed Trump as particularly strong, but he’s usually been in “command” of the debates during the Republican primary. That’s easy to do when you’re one candidate among many. But when you’re one-on-one, you can’t insult your way to a “victory” like he did so many times during the GOP primary debates.



If you didn’t watch the debate, I would highly suggest you block out some time to watch the whole thing for yourself. There’s really nothing I can say or do to truly convey just how bad this performance was for Trump. Even as someone who thought he would perform poorly, he did much worse than I thought he would.

I’ve learned to never count Trump out, but I’m going to be incredibly surprised if his poll numbers don’t take a big hit after this debate. You would really have to be a hardcore Trump supporter to walk away from this thinking he performed well. Clinton wasn’t flawless, but I think most rational people walked away from the first 2016 presidential debate thinking she clearly “won” this general election’s first big test.




Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • cruisersailor

    I bet Trump’s base thought he won this debate.

    • GL

      They did, but they’re also under the impression that the South won the Civil War. And that Mr. Loving -lost- Loving v. Virginia. And that Obergefell lost Obergefell v. Hodges.
      They’re not exactly concerned with knowing the truth, is what I’m getting at.

  • Brian

    Did we watch the same debate? Or will we ignore that Clinton did nothing but attack Trump and answered not a single question?