By now it’s clear that Hillary Clinton was the (mostly) undisputed winner of Monday night’s presidential debate. Thanks to a series of well-timed laughs, sick burns, and detailed policy proposals, she successfully fended off Donald Trump, who held it together for the first 15 minutes or so before coming unglued.
The debate drew a record-breaking audience, with at least 80.9 million viewers tuning in across 12 broadcast and cable networks. And although the candidates’ performances weren’t expected to sway devoted supporters, many speculated they’d be key to making up the minds of undecided voters.
So the New York Times dispatched a reporter to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where undecided women voters are expected to be integral to winning the swing state. And unfortunately for Trump, his debate performance did little to move them.
“I truly want to like him,” one 60-year-old woman said. “I keep looking for something in him. But I can’t have my children grow up and look at him as someone to respect.”
Other critiques were more pointed:
“The faces he made — he rolled his eyes!” said Janet Melton, who bought a cake and doughnuts at Yori’s Bakery, where a blackboard on the sidewalk advertised “Pumpkin Everything.” “He doesn’t come across as being very professional to me.”
“I’d rather have almost anybody in there except Hillary,” said Debbie Windle, a 63-year-old office administrator from Glenmoore. “I didn’t like her last night. I thought she was smug. She thought she was better and was putting him down. But I look at Donald Trump, and I think, oh, my God, he’s rough,” she added. “He could cause us a lot of damage.” Ms. Windle said she was considering not voting.
Kim Gray, a Trump supporter, said she had cringed when Mrs. Clinton accused him of calling a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy” because she gained weight and “Miss Housekeeping” because she was Latina. “That is embarrassing,” Ms. Gray, an office manager, said as she parked outside the West Chester post office. “I have a daughter. I have a son who’d never speak like that.”
“Hillary, I’m not a big fan of hers,” [said Diana Martens, 51, of Jeffersonville, a Republican who works at a pharmaceutical company]. But she said many of Mr. Trump’s answers lacked details or substance. “I don’t think he has the experience,” she said. “His behavior is unpresidential, unkind, un-everything.”
But at least one woman — 69-year-old Barb Haag, who’s a retired teacher — thought Trump’s demeanor was nothing to worry about. “Kids interrupt you all the time if they have a point to make,” she said.