Forget the debate spin: Trump is still a hot toxic mess
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The second presidential debate between Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers The Hill's Campaign Report: Arizona shifts towards Biden | Biden prepares for drive-in town hall | New Biden ad targets Latino voters FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden MORE was a resounding win for the former Secretary of State, and here’s why:

From the beginning, Trump tried to deflect from his most recent flame-out caused by the vile 2005 tape where Trump lewdly describes committing sexual assault because as “a star, they let you do anything.”

He tried to drag Hillary right into the gutter with him. But she wasn’t having it.

In the face of one of the campaign’s most cringe-worthy moments (and there have been many — thank you, Donald), when Trump paraded three of Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonD-Day for Trump: September 29 Trump job approval locked at 42 percent: Gallup If Trump doesn't know why he should be president again, how can voters? MORE’s accusers in front of the media prior to the debate, and then bluntly brought up their accusations during the debate, Hillary was unflappable.

It was painstakingly obvious that Trump wanted to rattle her. Break her. Push her off her game.  

It didn’t work.

Time and again, Hillary methodically went back to her central, stake-in-the-heart-of-Trump-campaign argument that Donald is not fit to serve.  

And Donald cooperated by handing her moment after moment of proof that she is right.

We can even count the ways:

  • Trying to use Bill Clinton’s 90s scandals against her, even as Republican strategists signaled it was a failed strategy and one that pushes more women towards Hillary;

  • Constantly interrupting her and creepily skulking and stalking her on stage as she moved deftly, substantively answering voters’ questions;

  • Promising to appoint a special prosecutor and put her “in jail” if he is elected – making her point about his manifest unfitness for the highest office in the land;

  • Throwing his loyal vice-presidential nominee Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceControversial CDC guidelines were written by HHS officials, not scientists: report Former DeVos chief of staff joins anti-Trump group Scott Walker helping to prep Pence for debate against Harris: report MORE under the bus as he vehemently disagreed with him on the subject of Russia and Syria;

  • Waxing incoherencies on all manner of policy from health care, to taxes, to foreign policy on Syria and Russia,

  • Admitting to his almost billion-dollar write-off as a way to avoid paying taxes;

  • And, most frightening of all to men and women everywhere, cavalierly dismissing his prideful talk of committing sexual assault as “locker room banter,” an insult to women AND men everywhere who would never speak this way about a woman in or out of a locker room.

While this was another victory for Hillary Clinton, the bar was set so impossibly low for Trump coming into this debate that many pundits thought he did well or at least stopped the bleeding, coming off of a historically disastrous couple of weeks in which a record number of party leaders abandoned and rescinded their support for their party’s nominee.  

Let’s say he did stop the bleeding. There is still the putrid stench of gangrene wafting from his campaign headquarters.  

If they believe they have heard the last of Trump as a lecherous, dirty old man who brags about sexually assaulting women, they are sadly mistaken. Trump’s defiant, non-apologetic approach to dealing with this highly sensitive and toxic issue, is far from pitch perfect. It is the opposite.

And we can expect more to come on just how much Trump “respects” women and holds them in high regard. We have just skimmed the surface of what is out there, as if that revolting recording was not enough.  

To Hillary’s prosecution of her case against Trump, he has already shown us who he is in his heart and at his core. Even his supporters say he “speaks from the heart,” and that’s why he is so popular with his followers.  

Yes, he does speak from the heart. That is why we should all be scared to our core.  

He genuinely devalues women and believes they are inferior objects to be graded, degraded and ogled (which disgustingly, even his own daughter does not escape). No wonder there was a distinct sound of laughter when he said he “has tremendous respect for women” on the debate stage.  

And nothing he said last night put women’s (or men’s) fears to rest on this point.  

Which is another big reason Hillary Clinton won the night.  

She did not have to deliver a knock-out blow. Trump is doing that to himself, all by himself.  

Let’s remember going into this debate, Trump needed to desperately add to his core of supporters. He needed to expand his appeal — to women, especially college-educated white women who are flocking to Clinton and who Mitt Romney won resoundingly and yet lost the election four years ago.  

He also needed to add support from Latinos and other minorities. No Republican candidate can get to the White House without at least 44% of the Hispanic vote – Trump is in the teens.  

Donald Trump needed to do much more than stop the bleeding. He needed to turn the tables, flip the narrative, and have a game-changing moment. He desperately had to muddy her, make Hillary flinch.  

She did not.  He failed — epically.  

Hillary Clinton refused to go there. She stayed focused on answering the voters’ questions. And Trump was left splattering in his pig pen with no out in sight.  

That is why he lost.  

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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