The jury is still out on who won the prize fight. No one was bloodied, but the Manhattan mogul came out with his huge ego bruised somewhat.
Surprisingly Donald Trump pulled his punches and let a robotic Hillary Clinton delivering her lines “as well ironed as her red pantsuit,” as a wag put it, get away with it.
Pundits, pollsters and the press of liberal ilk joined by a few right-wingers were quick to declare the suave former diplomat winner of the first presidential debate.
But the Republican standard bearer’s loyal supporters would have none of it. The brash billionaire claimed he had done “very well” giving his Democratic rival a passing “C+”.
He declined to grade himself as he blamed “left-leaning” moderator Lestor Holt going “much tougher” on him for his off-colour performance that saw him constantly sniffling and sipping water from a glass.
“No cold, no sniffles,” he insisted finding fault with a bad mike that caught his breathing but not his words giving armchair psychologists an opportunity to suggest he was suffering from an anxiety attack.
The commission on presidential debates though later acknowledged that Trump’s microphone was indeed faulty, affecting the audio in the hall.
Nor would Trump say why he wasted so much time explaining away his at best tentative support for the Iraq war or doubling down on the birther issue even after conceding that President Barack Obama was born in the US.
Pundits were also flummoxed as to why he had let Clinton off easily on her never- ending email scandal by merely suggesting that her key aides “pleading the fifth” – declining to testify as it might incriminate them – was “disgraceful.”
And when Trump insisted he had a better presidential temperament than her, Clinton smiled, let out a “Whoo,” and closing her eyes shook her shoulders.
The move went viral with countless GIFs, some set to song, celebrating the ‘Hillary Shimmy’.
Clinton also turned the tables on Trump as he tried to explain away his remark that she did not look “presidential” by suggesting he was talking about her stamina.
Accusing him of being sexist, she charged Trump with publicly shaming former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining weight. “He called this woman, ‘Miss Piggy,'” she said.
The “seventh grader bully” had unravelled under pressure and was now toast, the pundits proclaimed. Though some conceded that they had been there a thousand times before and it would be “foolish” to trust conventional wisdom yet again.
And as she nosed ahead in the polls after the debate, a “thrilled” Clinton crowed “one down, two to go” declaring she had a “great, great time”.
Clinton also brought out Michelle Obama and her one time primary rival Bernie Sanders to woo the millennials, but those feeling the ‘Bern’ remained cold to her.
Meanwhile, Trump, who had shunned preparation for the first debate, tested new lines of attack for the next two rounds.
“The only people Hillary Clinton ever fights for are the special interests who write cheques for her — big, fat, beautiful cheques,” Trump said at a rally.
“She put the office of secretary of state up for sale, and if she ever got the chance, she’d put the Oval Office up for sale also,” he said at another.
“With her it’s about ‘follow the money,’ remember that phrase,” Trump declared.
But he also could not resist wading back into the dustup with Machado. “They know what they’re getting into. It’s a beauty contest,” he said claiming, “I saved her job.”
Then joining a twitter war with Clinton, Trump questioned “Crooked Hillary’s” judgement in using the beauty queen in the “debate as a paragon of virtue.” The Clinton campaign fired back calling him “unhinged”.
With such ‘weighty’ issues as the size of a beauty queen on their minds as they take measure of the two candidates, it’s no wonder that many voters are suffering from what a Washington therapist calls “Election Stress Disorder”.
But not to worry! An antidote is on hand. A new mobile game “Trump Border Wall Run” has him dancing and running obstacles on top of “the world’s yuugest border wall”.
It’s “neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump”, claim the game’s makers Loco Theory, and is simply designed to take the stress out of politics and lower one’s blood pressure a notch or two.