6 Things I Wish Clinton Had Said to Trump

According to post-debate instant polls and based on the continuing defection of other leading Republicans, Hillary Clinton evidently did well enough in Sunday night’s debate. But had she been a little more alert and less scripted, she might have demolished Donald Trump, once and for all.


Trump came into the debate on the verge of a total meltdown, with Republican elected officials deserting his candidacy by the dozen, his own running mate distancing himself from the candidate, and the nation in a state of disgust over Trump’s bragging over his gross sexual exploits.

Yet when the debate was over, the consensus that Trump has done well enough to survive, even to halt the slide. What might Hillary have said? Here are six examples:

Trump (from the transcript):

COOPER: Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?

TRUMP: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

COOPER: So, for the record, you’re saying you never did that?

TRUMP: I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you: No, I have not. And I will tell you that I’m going to make our country safe. We’re going to have borders in our country, which we don’t have now.

CLINTON (should have said): Donald, who do you think you are kidding? The record is full of disgusting sexual boasts of how you hit on women, how you degrade women. Either you were lying in your boasts, or you are lying now. Either way, the claim that you have tremendous respect for women is the biggest lie of all.

TRUMP (from the transcript): They always blame Russia. And the reason they blame Russia because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know nothing about Russia.

CLINTON (should have said): Donald, that might be the one true thing you’ve said tonight. You didn’t know that Russia had invaded Crimea. You believe that Putin is bombing Aleppo in Syria to get rid of ISIS, when in fact he is bombing Aleppo to prop up his puppet, Bashar al-Assad, who is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths—and is one of the leading causes of the rise of ISIS. You think Vladimir Putin is a role model. You say you and he can get along—you think alike—that’s evident from the way you would trash our democracy. But on Russia, on Syria, like on so much else, you just don’t know what you’re talking about. You spout nonsense, you make it up as you go along.

TRUMP (from the transcript, on his plan to increase competition in health insurance by allowing competition across state lines): You’re going to have plans that are so good, because we’re going to have so much competition in the insurance industry. Once we break out—once we break out the [state] lines and allow the competition to come.

CLINTON (should have said): Once again, Donald is displaying his complete ignorance of how it actually works. Competition across state lines doesn’t result in better or cheaper insurance. Do you know how insurance companies actually compete? They compete by recruiting healthy people and avoiding sick people. That’s why we need to regulate them to protect people from being denied insurance or having their rates jacked up because of pre-existing conditions. Donald lives in a parallel universe of his own imagination.

TRUMP (from the transcript): She complains that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax code. Well, why didn’t she change it? Why didn’t you change it when you were a senator?

CLINTON (should have said): Donald, possibly you know that there are 100 members of the Senate, and I was just one? For most of the years that I served in the Senate, the Republicans were in the majority. Whenever we tried to make the tax code more just, so that working families could get a break and billionaires like you would pay their fair share, the Republicans kept cutting taxes on the very rich. If I am elected, I will fight to change that.

TRUMP (from the transcript): Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country.

CLINTON (should have said): We owe the coal miners a better life, and we need a program of redevelopment and good jobs for the coal country. But Donald is blowing smoke when he tells the miners and their communities that he has a magic plan to bring back coal and coal mining jobs. For one thing, so much of the mining is being done by machines, and that will only increase. There are only 83,000 coal mining jobs left in America. For another thing, coal is just no longer price competitive with other forms of energy such as natural gas. Even solar is cheaper than coal. But we owe the miners, their communities, and their families a better life. We can’t throw them away like the coal companies threw away their mountains and rivers. And when I am president, these communities will have new opportunities in new, clean industries.

TRUMP (from the transcript): 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.

CLINTON (should have said): Donald, you may have missed this in civics class, but one of the things that makes America a democracy is that the winners of elections don’t try to put their opponents in jail. Your pal Putin does that, but Americans don’t.

OK, Clinton didn’t say any of this. And she let Trump tell a number of outright lies.

Her handlers have concluded that it’s best for her to hang back and be presidential, and let Trump come across as a crazy man. The strategy partly works. But time and again, Trump has displayed an uncanny ability to come back from the dead, by breaking all the rules.

In the last debate, the moderator will be Chris Wallace from Fox. You can bet that he will be fair and balanced in the usual Fox fashion.

Clinton, to win by a decent margin, needs to maximize all the openings that Trump gives her. She needs to relax a little, and permit herself some ad-libs. Trump may have a glass jaw, but only if Hillary lands more punches.

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