Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump dropped the first debate of the 2016 presidential cycle to his Democratic rival. That was partly because the moderator, NBC News’ Lester Holt, turned in one of the most biased performances in the history of presidential debates. But it was also because Trump failed to talk about many of his strongest issues, and he failed to bring up some of Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses when he had the chance.
Here are five key words that Trump forgot to say.
1. “Benghazi.” Trump never brought up Clinton’s most damning, and emotive, failure as commander-in-chief. Lester Holt certainly wasn’t going to raise the issue, but Clinton left him an opening when she said that he “lacks the temperament to be commander-in-chief.” Instead of reminding voters that Clinton not only abandoned Americans in the middle of a terror attack, but lied about it afterwards, Trump talked about nuclear weapons and the amount of money America spends in NATO.
2. “Foundation.” When Lester Holt went at Trump over his tax returns, Trump talked about Clinton’s deleted emails. But he failed to bring up the Clinton Foundation and its pay-to-play politics, which is the reason Clinton hid her emails in the first place. As a result, when Clinton attacked Trump for possible conflicts of interest — he failed to point out that she mastered the concept, collecting millions in effective bribes as she and her husband collected cash from cronies and foreign governments.
3. “Wall.” Where was Trump’s wall, or any hint of the immigration policy that helped him soar to the top of the presidential primary? True, the one time Trump tried to talk about immigration Holt diverted him to a conversation about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. But that is no excuse. Clinton’s amnesty-for-everyone policy is an open goal, especially given the recent spate of terror attacks carried out by Muslim immigrants, some with ties to Islamic extremist groups. Trump failed to take the shot.
4. “FBI.” Trump briefly mentioned Clinton’s emails, but what is more important is the cover-up. She is the first presidential nominee of a major party to be investigated by the FBI, and as more information emerges, it is clear the FBI did everything it could to avoid prosecuting her despite the evidence. That is a preview of how a Clinton presidency would work again, with one law for the Clintons and another for everybody else. The system is rigged, and Trump needs to say that more specifically.
5. “Growth.” Trump never mentioned economic growth, which is the heart of his own economic policy, and the essence of what Republicans offer to voters, rather than the Democrats’ policies of redistribution. The only times the word “growth” was mentioned was by the moderator — erroneously praising Obama’s record — and Clinton: “we need to have strong growth, fair growth, sustained growth”; “Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America.” He let her own that issue Monday.
Update: Note, too, that Trump did not mention “radical Islamic terror.” He did mention terror, and he did mention Muslims — in the context of explaining that he did not allow discrimination against Muslims at his golf club. But it seems an oversight, at the very least, for Trump to fail to mention “radical Islamic terror” when he has basically campaigned for months on Clinton’s avoidance of those words. Especially given the frightening events of the past several weeks, that was a missed opportunity.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.