Donald Trump Tells Supporters That He Won The Debate With Clinton

Sep 28, 2016
Originally published on September 30, 2016 9:18 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The question who won a presidential debate is only worth so much to answer. A debate is one part of a long campaign, part of a process. And the real question is who wins the election. But if you wonder who won Monday's presidential debate, one plausible answer comes from CNN, which conducted a scientific poll. Sixty-two percent of those responding thought Hillary Clinton won. Just 27 percent said Donald Trump won. But NPR's Sarah McCammon reports the Republican candidate has his own take.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: If you've been listening to Donald Trump at all over the past year or so, his take on the results of the first debate won't surprise you.

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DONALD TRUMP: Almost every single poll had us winning the debate against crooked Hillary Clinton, big league - big league.

MCCAMMON: In front of a large crowd in Melbourne, Fla., Trump touted the results of several unscientific online tallies where debate watchers pick their favorites. For all of his bravado, Trump admitted to a little nervousness ahead of the high-stakes meeting with his Democratic rival, an experienced debater.

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TRUMP: I knew I was going into a situation where you were going to have one of the largest audiences in the history of television. And I took a deep breath, and I pretended I was talking to my family. It's very interesting. You just block it out.

MCCAMMON: Trump has been criticized for repeatedly interrupting the former secretary of state and talking over her and the moderator. But he told his supporters he'd gone easy.

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TRUMP: For 90 minutes, I watched her very carefully. And I was also holding back. I didn't want to do anything to embarrass her.

MCCAMMON: Clinton is also claiming victory in the debate and continuing to go after Trump on issues, including his refusal to release his tax returns. Trump supporter Ashley Wainuskis said her candidate won, even if he didn't knock it out of the park.

ASHLEY WAINUSKIS: Especially for it being his first debate.

MCCAMMON: Her mom, Deisha Knight, said too much time was spent on Trump's past.

DEISHA KNIGHT: His tax returns don't matter to me. Whether he's - you know, what he did in the past when he wasn't running for office doesn't matter to me. What he's doing now and what he's doing in the future matters to me, and that wasn't really covered in the debate.

MCCAMMON: For those also hoping for more, there are still two presidential debates and about six more weeks of campaigning left to go. Sarah McCammon, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.