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Clinton set the trap and Trump walked in

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — The first 20 minutes of the long-awaited showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton appeared to be a draw. It was only later, when Clinton began a barrage of possible explanations for Trump’s failure to release his tax returns and then sat back as he squirmed his way through an explanation of his history of birtherism, that her victory became clear.

But it was rooted in those opening exchanges and a seemingly off-hand but actually quite deliberate decision by Clinton to bait Trump—by mentioning his father and challenging his own conception as a self-made man.

“Donald was very fortunate in his life, and that’s all to his benefit,” Clinton started. “He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father, and he really believes that the more you help wealthy people, the better off we’ll be and that everything will work out from there.”

Trump quickly dismissed Clinton’s characterization, saying he received “a very small loan” that he turned into a company valued, he claimed, in the billions. “I say that only because that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs.”

In the moment, he seemed calm—but from that point forward he was anything but.

“She mind screwed him from the beginning by mentioning the loan from his father,” said Rob Stutzman, a GOP operative in California. “That was brilliant psychological warfare on her part. He slowly unwound from there, culminating is borderline incoherency over the final 30 minutes.”

 

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