US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended his uneven performance in his first televised debate with Hillary Clinton, insisting that his Democratic opponent did not get under his skin.
The New York businessman complained about a malfunctioning microphone, “unfair” questions and threatened that he may “hit her harder” and refer to Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs in his next debate with the former president’s wife.
Although both sides claimed victory in the debate at Hofstra University in New York, most media pundits declared Mrs Clinton (68) the winner. A CNN/ORC snap poll said 62 per cent felt Mrs Clinton won and 27 per cent believed Mr Trump came out on top.
The Republican nominee faced the most intrusive postmortem as he was questioned on his weak responses to Mrs Clinton’s attacks on his business record, his failure to release his tax returns and his past racist and sexist remarks.
“I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” the property developer told Fox News, explaining why he chose not to delve into Mr Clinton’s infidelities during Monday night’s debate out of respect for the couple’s daughter, Chelsea, in the audience.
Mr Trump (70), who returned to the campaign trail in Florida, dismissed his Democratic rival’s well-executed attacks, saying that he was not rattled. “No, not at all,” he said. “I didn’t see it that way.”
He conceded that “at the end, maybe” she unnerved him when she named a former beauty contestant subjected to racist and misogynistic remarks by Mr Trump. “Where did you find this?” he said repeatedly.
In one of the most damaging moments for the billionaire, Mrs Clinton condemned him for calling women "pigs, slobs and dogs". She went on to describe how he had called Alicia Machado – the Venezuela-born winner of his 1996 Miss Universe contest – "Miss Piggy" because of her weight gain and "Miss Housekeeping" because she was from Latin America.
The Clinton campaign capitalised on the moment by releasing an ad that featured footage of Mr Trump from the 1990s complaining about Ms Machado’s weight and calling her “somebody that likes to eat”.
Mrs Clinton shrugged off Mr Trump’s threat to raise details of her husband’s private life at the next debate on October 9th as she left for North Carolina.