Do you feel good tonight? Well I sure do,” Hillary Clinton told a crowd of supporters at a debate watch party in Westbury, N.Y., Monday night after her hour and a half head-to-head with Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, in the “spin room” at Hofstra University, her top staffers were taking a victory lap, calling Trump unprepared and erratic and praising Clinton’s performance to the hundreds of reporters still in the arena.
“I think he was totally unprepared for this entire debate,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said. “We assumed that he would prepare; he did not. We assumed he would maintain his composure; he could not. He became unhinged.”
Mook and other Clinton staffers said Trump’s weakest moment was his lengthy response to moderator Lester Holt’s question about the mogul’s history of questioning the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. Mook said Trump “dug the hole deeper” on his “birther” controversy.
David Plouffe, Obama’s top strategist during his two presidential campaigns, told reporters that Clinton performed best when she spoke about her father’s work as a small business owner and when she needled Trump over his refusal to release his tax returns. He also mentioned Clinton’s retort when she said Trump teased her for preparing for the debate. (“Yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing,” she said.)
“I think that moment where she talked about how she was proud to prepare for both the debate and then sliding right into the birther exchange where [Trump] went around in that muck a little bit, I think that was the weakest moment of the debate for him,” Plouffe said.
He predicted that undecided voters may be swayed by that portion of Clinton’s performance, and he said he didn’t think Trump did anything to move the needle on those who are undecided on him.
“He’s not going to lose the Trump lovers, but the Trump lovers will get him about 43 percent of the vote and a beat-down on Election Day,” Plouffe said.
Meanwhile, Trump’s surrogates spun his performance as a victory, as well, though the candidate skipped a scheduled appearance at an after party and complained to reporters that his mic was “defective.”