October 20, 2016

ED MORRISSEY SUMS UP THE FINAL DEBATE: Last opportunity, lost opportunity?

Trump — after the first 30 minutes in which he dominated — had a good debate, in terms of campaigning to the Right.

Hillary, on the other hand, had difficulty finding a consistent voice. Thanks to Chris Wallace’s adept moderation, she had to argue within a ten-minute period that the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms can be subject to “reasonable” restrictions, but that the derived “right” to abortion has to be completely unencumbered by any regulations. She sputtered when Wallace contradicted her claim to be opposed to open borders by reading directly from one of her own speeches. Like so many other occasions in which she gets openly challenged, Hillary sounded shrill and strident at times, and evasive at others.

However, Hillary did accomplish two key things. First, she campaigned to the center rather than to the Left (after the Supreme Court and abortion discussions). Even on guns, Hillary tried to frame herself as a moderate, even while making an absurd claim that Heller was wrongly decided because of toddlers — a clear reference to a new Brady Campaign effort. Because she didn’t need to shore up her base, Hillary could work toward the center and position herself as the reasonable and rational choice, a task made a little easier with Trump’s answer on the election and a couple of his late personal insults.

Second, Hillary didn’t screw up. That was her real mission last night — not to make a fatal mistake.

Trump had a higher bar to clear, and today of course the usual worrywarts are raising it even higher because of his answer about accepting the election results.

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