ST. LOUIS, Missouri — It wouldn’t be Trumpian if there weren’t any fireworks.
Donald Trump, the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, crushed his Democratic opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton in Sunday evening’s debate at Washington University in St. Louis—propelling him closer to the White House and past, perhaps, the roughest stretch of his campaign yet.
“It was an absolute home run for Mr. Trump,” Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, told Breitbart News in the spin room after the debate. “This was a game-changing victory. You know what? The underdog is back.”
Several key exchanges in the debate proved Trump to be the better candidate on Sunday night, the most important of which was when Trump forced out on his own with no help from moderators CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC News’ Martha Raddatz: when Trump said he would appoint a special and independent prosecutor to investigate the Clinton email scandal.
Trump held his own through six straight questions with which Raddatz and others peppered him, opening the debate about the recently surfaced video of him using lewd language with former President George H.W. Bush’s nephew Billy Bus; then when Hillary Clinton brought up the birther questions again—trying to force that into the conversation—Trump trapped her.
“He [Trump] owes the president an apology, he owes our country an apology, and he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his words,” Clinton said, regarding the birther issue.
After detailing how it is actually Hillary Clinton who owes President Obama an apology because she started the birther narrative—it’s been proven that Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal pushed the story back in the 2008 campaign, as did at least two people on Clinton’s campaign—Trump shifted the conversation to questions about her emails.
“But when you talk about apology, I think the one that you should really be apologizing for and the thing that you should be apologizing for are the 33,000 e-mails that you deleted, and that you acid washed, and then the two boxes of e-mails and other things last week that were taken from an office and are now missing,” Trump said, before dropping the mega-bomb: a special prosecutor to independently investigate Clinton.
“And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it, and we’re going to have a special prosecutor,” Trump said, adding:
When I speak, I go out and speak, the people of this country are furious. In my opinion, the people that have been long-term workers at the FBI are furious. There has never been anything like this, where emails — and you get a subpoena, you get a subpoena, and after getting the subpoena, you delete 33,000 emails, and then you acid wash them or bleach them, as you would say, very expensive process. So we’re going to get a special prosecutor, and we’re going to look into it because you know what? People have been — their lives have been — destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace. And honestly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
After Clinton accused Trump of “lies” without detailing any, and as Raddatz attempted to intervene to save her, she begged the so-called “fact checkers” for help.
“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country,” she added.
In response, Trump fired back his most aggressive and bold comeback all year: “Because you’d be in jail.”
Another key moment came when Raddatz tried to press Trump on his plan to temporarily halt Islamic migration into America from nations with terrorism problems. Hillary Clinton, in her previous answer—in a response to an Islamophobia question from an audience member—had attacked Trump over the Khan Gold Star family controversy again. Trump, in his reply to Raddatz’s question, flipped the whole thing back on Clinton—who, unlike Trump, supported the war in Iraq.
“First of all, Captain Khan is an American hero, and if I were president at that time, he would be alive today because, unlike her, who voted for the war without knowing what she was doing, I would not have had our people in Iraq. Iraq was a disaster,” Trump said. “So he would have been alive today.”
“The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into an extreme vetting from certain areas of the world,” Trump continued. “Hillary Clinton wants to allow hundreds of thousands…”
Raddatz then interrupted him.
“Excuse me. Excuse me,” Trump talked over her.
“And why did it morph into that? No, did you — no, answer the question. Do you still believe…” Raddatz asked over Trump’s talking.
“Why don’t you interrupt her? You interrupt me all the time,” Trump asked Raddatz, speaking directly at the moderator.
“I do,” Raddatz said.
“Why don’t you interrupt her?” Trump followed up.
The moderators interrupted Trump 26 times—and Clinton only 12 times—a clear and implicit bias by the legacy media anchors.
“Would you please explain whether or not the Muslim ban still stands?” Raddatz interjected again.
“It’s called extreme vetting,” Trump said. He continued:
We are going to areas like Syria where they’re coming in by the tens of thousands because of Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton wants to allow a 550 percent increase over Obama. People are coming into our country like we have no idea who they are, where they are from, what their feelings about our country is, and she wants 550 percent more. This is going to be the great Trojan horse of all time. We have enough problems in this country. I believe in building safe zones. I believe in having other people pay for them, as an example, the Gulf states, who are not carrying their weight, but they have nothing but money, and take care of people. But I don’t want to have, with all the problems this country has and all of the problems that you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values, and we know nothing about their love for our country.
There were many other moments throughout the debate—from exchanges on Obamacare to more about refugees to dealing with Russia and Syria and even campaign finance—and Trump defeated Clinton on all of them. After the moderators could not stump Trump in the opening, and he steamrolled ahead in the early momentum, she could not catch a break all night.
Trump’s debate victory—which comes after a rough first debate with Clinton back on September 26, an eternity ago in this race, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s win last Tuesday in Virginia in the vice presidential debate against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)—puts perhaps the roughest stretch of his campaign behind him. A videotape of him making lewd remarks about women surfaced on Friday, and jittery establishment Republicans showed initial signs of a full-scale collapse of support for him. That was followed by an apology video late Friday night from Trump, a WikiLeaks document dump of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal emails, a rough-and-tumble, but effective, showing from several women who have accused Bill Clinton of allegedly raping or sexually assaulting them, and now this debate performance. With each of those developments and more, Trump seems to have put that stage of the campaign behind him and returned to the offensive position—riding high into political battle—moving into the final month of the campaign.
The videotape threatened to derail Trump’s campaign, as it prompted several senior Republicans to call on him to withdraw and hand the nomination away to his running mate or someone else. Trump has doubled down and refuses to quit on his supporters—and, sure enough, the tape found its way to center stage at the debate’s opening. Trump was pressed on it a whopping six times before he finally—as he hinted he would before the debate when tweeting out video interviews that Bill Clinton’s accusers did with Breitbart News, then appearing with them at an event here in Missouri—lit into Hillary Clinton for enabling Bill Clinton’s behavior.
But not only did Trump survive; he thrived. In the chaotic environment—as he described it as “one on three,” with the moderators working to help Clinton far more than to help him—Trump found his groove again and soared to a much-needed debate victory. The win not only stops the bleeding from a rough patch of the campaign, but propels him forward into the week like a cannonball onto the homestretch, with one final debate to go in Las Vegas a week from Wednesday.
Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, noted that Trump does his best with his back against the wall.
“I think Donald Trump loves being the underdog, and this was fantastic,” Miller told Breitbart News. “I think what we saw tonight is a presidential leader in Donald Trump, who stepped up, is ready to lead, and that he’s not going to back down to anybody. Hillary Clinton was rattled—completely rattled—the entire evening. She couldn’t answer on crazy Obamacare. She couldn’t answer on taxes. She couldn’t answer on the emails. You could see everything, from her face was rattled to her inability to give clear answers to the voters who were there. I think if you’re at home and you’re watching, and you think about that person who is out there and what it would look like if she were across the table from a foreign leader, I’d be nervous that she wouldn’t be able to stand up and defend this country. I think one candidate came across as very presidential tonight and that was Donald Trump.”