Washington University Presidential Debate: Win, Lose or Draw?

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Who won last night’s presidential debate at Washington University?

Students who attended the debate think Trump came out swinging. “[Trump] kept his chances alive. He was on offense and Hillary was on defense for most of the debate,” a student says.

Trump brought up accusations against former President Bill Clinton for sexual abuse. KMOX political analyst John Hancock says Clinton missed an opportunity to humanize herself by expressing her love for her husband to move the discussion out of Trump’s hands.

“When [Trump] called Bill Clinton a rapist, you would have expected Hillary Clinton to have defended that…[but she] really didn’t take on that accusation,” KMOX political analyst Michael Kelley says.

Kelley adds “Donald Trump did nothing but rope-a-dope her”  on discussion of Clinton’s email scandal, simultaneously deflecting discussion about his own sexual assault comments, which he chalked up as “locker room talk.”

“There was more time spent on this debate tonight talking about emails than sexual abuse, and that’s a win for Donald Trump,” Hancock says.

Fox 2’s John Brown joined Hancock and Kelley in their post-debate analysis, saying Trump’s rallying of his supporters counterbalanced his lack of policy discussion. “That’s how he’ll win, by rallying the base. He had [Clinton] on the ropes much of the night and it seemed to give his people energy,” Brown says.

On the Spin Room floor, Washington University political science professor Steven Smith says Donald Trump tried to raise the costs for fellow Republicans deserting him.

“He decided to try to turn the tables on Hillary Clinton. ‘If I have problems with my moral standing, she even has a greater problem with her moral standing,’ that’s the approach he decided to take. He decided to go on the attack,” Steven Smith says.

He says usually someone that’s a few points behind, like Trump, tries to broaden appeal and pick up some new supporters. “What we saw tonight was the old Trump appealing to that traditional base of maybe one-third of the Republican party,” Smith says. “You want to rally the troops when the party is close to deserting you.”

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was asked to compare Trump’s comments to those of Todd Akin, a comparison she says just isn’t fair.

“[Akin] quoted bad science to support his ideology, but he really believed it. Comparing that with what Donald Trump said about having sex with married women and groping women’s genitals…is so unfair to Todd Akin,” McCaskill says.

She adds “it makes no sense” for people to asked Akin to be removed from the Missouri ticket and not Trump.

Ultimately, McCaskill believes Clinton “will win in Missouri by a hair.”

Congressman Lacy Clay says the fact that Trump’s wooing of African-American voters is ineffective due to his policies, such as Trump’s plan to re-introduce stop and frisk. When asked about the lack of discussion about Ferguson or race relations, Clay says the questions simply weren’t asked.

“I mean, think about the setting. It was a town hall setting where the questions come from a selected few,” he says.

On the Republican side, the only local on the Spin Room floor was Congressman Jason Smith of Cape Girardeau, who was asked to defend Donald Trump in the wake of the tape, says while the words are “unacceptable and appalling,” the situation is blown out of proportion by the media.

“I don’t support Trump on his values, I support him on the concerns. I care about the Supreme Court, I care about repealing and replacing Obamacare, I care about reforming the tax code,” Jason Smith says.

He adds that if those among his party don’t support Trump, they’re willing to “surrender” and elect Clinton as “a third term of Obama.”

If there’s one thing many agree on, Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton says it’s that the debate let St. Louis shine in the spotlight.

“This has been a great experience. We’ve really energized our students, they’ve registered thousands of people to vote, they’ve become better adept at understanding the issues we face in our country,” Wrighton says.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger notes regional cooperation was on display. “You’ve seen uniforms from Webster Groves, from St. Louis City, our own St. Louis County Police Department. They’ve all come together and coordinated to keep us all safe,” he says.

Stenger notes that the debate “is an intellectual battle” and it’s an effective way to boost the region’s profile. St. Louis has hosted more presidential debates than any site in history.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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