HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK — After the first presidential debate here at Hofstra University, Hillary Clinton surrogates are pleased with their candidate’s performance, but admit that it isn’t likely to drive a big shift in support.
“I think it’s a very close race, I don’t think we should expect a big shift.” Clinton’s Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri explained after the debate in an interview with Breitbart News. “We’re not banking on a change in the polls.”
But Palmieri says she was genuinely pleased with Clinton’s night, suggesting that she may have sparked some interest from undecided voters.
“It’s early. I’m pleased with what undecided voters saw,” she added. When asked if she thinks Clinton appeared likable, she replied, “I do.”
However, Clinton advisers appeared more eager to pan Trump’s performance, suggesting that he was unprepared, unhinged, and unpresidential.
“She evidently gets under his skin,” Palmeri said. “He was baited even when we didn’t try to bait.”
David Plouffe, a political strategist and a member of Uber’s board, suggested that the debate was increasingly “bizarre” as the night went on.
“It was a bizarre debate, having been involved in preparing for these things, I mean to see someone kind of show up and not really be prepared kind of waning as the night went on,” he said.
He compared Trump’s demeanor with that of President Obama’s in the first debate with Mitt Romney.
“Whether you like it or not, I learned in the first debate in 2012, mannerisms matter,” he said, admitting that Obama didn’t have a great debate that night.
But he explained that Trump became more “unhinged” the longer the debate lasted.
“I don’t think they saw a president up there in Donald Trump, I thought they saw someone up there who was kind of very thin … his annoyance showed through,” he said.
He argued that undecided women suburban voters were likely turned off by Trump’s performance, voters he needed to pull himself ahead of Clinton in the election.
“I don’t think Trump added a single person to his column tonight,” he said.
He even ridiculed Trump’s stamina, arguing that he “clearly struggled” in the debate as the night wore on.
“If that had been a two hour debate, he would have been in deep trouble,” Plouffe said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill praised Clinton for striking the right tone, as the first woman nominee for president.
“I think it’s very hard … you know when you are a woman, if you get too strong, too powerful, then they start calling you shrill, or even worse, the b-word,” she said.
She also joined surrogates who spent more time questioning Trump’s temperament than Clinton’s performance.
“Donald Trump did not meet the bar that any president needs to meet, he did not demonstrate that he has the judgement or the temperament to serve in this job.”
Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta agreed.
“He came unprepared, showed himself, I think, that he proved he actually lacked the temperament to be commander in chief,” he stated.