Hillary Clinton does her homework and shows who's boss
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This first presidential debate was Hillary's moment. She owned Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE like a Girl Boss. And she demonstrated the benefits of good preparation. In fact, one of her greatest moments of the night was when she turned to Trump and said "I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. Well I did. Just like I have prepared to be President."  

That was a drop-the-mic moment. But importantly it taught an important lesson for all of America's - and the world's — sons and daughters: that these moments are to be taken seriously, that one should prepare for the tough challenges in life, and that hard work, perseverance, civility and dedication are always going to win over braggadocio, rudeness, brashness and outright lying.  


Throughout the run-up to the debate, Donald Trump and his campaign did nothing but belittle the traditional prep that is normally dedicated to these high-tension, high-pressure and incredibly important moments of presidential campaigns.  

He brushed it aside as if he did not need to bother with taking time to study, or better himself in order to present a more prepared Donald Trump to the American people. As a result, she crushed him. And deservedly so.  

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE demonstrated a masterful command of the issues, but she did so in a very relatable and relevant manner. She personalized her own story, talking about her father being a drapery salesman, as she was condemning Trump for taking advantage of his subcontractors and other workers whom he has not paid.

Another key moment of the night was when Trump tried to belittle her by saying she didn't have the stamina to be President. And she replied by reminding him of  the 112 countries that she traveled to as Secretary of State, the many deals she negotiated and actions she took on behalf of the United States, and then mentioned the eleven hours she testified nonstop before Congress.

When Trump does that, she said, HE can talk to her about stamina. 

There were also many bizarre moments when Donald Trump would go off on intangible incoherent run-on sentences, without clarity as to what he was talking about. He seemed able to fill the time he needed to speak, but he didn't do it by clarifying any of his positions, or even answering the questions that Lester Holt put to him. 

One of the smartest things that Hillary Clinton did during the debate, was actually to step back and let Donald Trump speak. The more that he spoke, the clearer it became that he is uniquely unqualified, and wholly unprepared to be commander-in-chief.

And the lies. The lies, the lies, the lies.

Donald Trump did not for a moment pause on the lies, lies, lies. He denied that he had said that global warming was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese (below is a tweet proving that he had said it.

He lied about heaping praise on Vladimir Putin. He lied about his stance on going into Iraq. He lied about Ford cutting thousands of American jobs and taking them to Mexico (A lie that has already been debunked by Ford’s own CEO). 

And he kept lying about being the one to perpetuate the racist “birther” movement that challenged Obama’s ancestry.  

I am sure they were several more lies that I'm not remembering at the moment. 

Donald Trump tried to have his moments when he continually painted Hillary as somebody representing the status quo. But his problem was that he could not articulate anything coherent that he would actually do differently.  And he came off like a bully.  

This tactic will work to solidify his support among his core followers, but it does nothing to increase his appeal to undecided voters, and can certainly continue to turn off college-educated women whom he needs to win over.

Hillary won last night, because she was able to draw a very clear contrast between a candidate who has spent four decades of public service dedicated to bettering the lives of women, children, and middle-class families, who has real plans and a forward-looking vision, and a candidate who has done nothing for decades but enrich himself at the expense of the "little guys."  

She did the country a huge favor by letting Trump paint himself - with some tactical expert touches from her — as this temperamentally unfit, loose lipped, shoot from the hip, let-it-rip, Birther in Chief. Because that is exactly who he is. And every night that Trump is himself, is a good night for Hillary Clinton.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

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