Views from around the world on Monday’s first U.S. presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump:
Wang Pei, a graduate student in communications studies, watched the debate from a cafe in Beijing and said he thought Clinton carried herself better.
“I personally like Trump’s character and the feeling that he’s a fighter,” Wang said. “But from today’s performance, I think Clinton was more like a mature politician and Trump looked a bit like a misfit in this kind of setting.”
Ge Mengchao, a graduate student in journalism, said he thought Trump would be a better president for China because his business background could mean he would appreciate the countries’ commercial ties.
“I think maybe Trump would be friendlier to China, because China and the U.S. share vast common interests, especially in commercial areas,” Ge said. “From the perspective of a businessman, he may take a friendlier approach to China.”
Richard McConochie watched the debate on a big screen in a Canberra pub and said, “To me Trump aced it.”
“He came across as a man who could control himself. They said Trump’s ignorant of the issues. I think he proved that he had at least a working handle on most of the stuff he was talking about.”
“I think he’ll swing a lot of Americans over to Trump just by proving that he is not the sort of unstable, dangerous lunatic that he’s painted to be,” McConochie said. “I don’t see that Trump would be any more incompetent than Clinton.”
Milton Gan, a Sydney-based photographer, said it seemed like Trump was trying to rein in his temper for the first 15 minutes, then went off the rails.
“He started interrupting Clinton, he started interrupting [moderator] Lester [Holt] and he started steamrolling. And you could see he was just getting really irate about everything,” Gan said.
“The most ridiculous thing was at the end when he said he had the better temperament to be president,” Gan said, laughing. “It was just hilarious.”
Clinton came off prepared, confident and composed, Gan said: “Obviously, she’s done her prep and she’s got so much experience in politics and I think that really showed.”
Tim Stanley, a columnist for Britain’s conservative Daily Telegraph, said in his column Tuesday that Trump won the debate but may lose the election. He said Trump repeated many of his outrageous campaign statements and defended his earlier questions about whether President Barack Obama was really born in the U.S., but they played well in a debate that should be judged as reality TV.
He said Trump said everything that people who hate Clinton have wanted to say for 30 years.
“In terms of reality TV, he did well,” Stanley wrote. “He harassed, he shouted, he taunted, he talked over. And Clinton let him do it.”
But he said Trump said nothing during the debate to win over non-whites and female voters and did not act particularly presidential. That means, he said, that Trump probably won’t be getting the chance to redecorate the Oval Office.
Sigmar Gabriel, German vice chancellor and head of the Social Democratic Party, told daily newspaper Bild on Tuesday morning that Clinton was the clear winner and that Trump’s performance showed striking weaknesses.
“Trump didn’t have a plan. Neither for the U.S. nor for the big foreign policy challenges,” Gabriel said. “Clinton convinced with competence and clarity. It was a clear victory for her.”
Hannes Reinhardt, a 34-year-old who works for a small German publication called zwd, said he didn’t watch the debate live because it started at 3 a.m. in Germany, but he woke up to several push alerts on his phone.
“My first impression based on those alerts was that Clinton was leading in the debate,” he said, taking a puff on his cigarette before heading into his office in Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood. Reinhardt said that he hoped Clinton would also win the U.S. elections.
“As a German, one can only hope that she will win. She is more moderate and more European, while Trump is very isolationist and a populist,” Reinhardt said.
Narushige Michishita, a Japanese analyst, said it was in some ways heartening to hear his country mentioned in the debate, since Japan is often overlooked these days. But he disagreed with Trump’s criticism that Japan and other U.S. allies aren’t contributing enough to their defense.
“There is a small truth to what Mr. Trump was saying, in the sense that Japan was a kind of free-rider or at least a cheap-rider back in the 1970s and ’80s,” said Michishita, director of the security and international studies program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.
“But … now given what Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe is doing to make Japan much more proactive on defense and security matters, and trying to make Japan more engaged in international security affairs, it’s like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
Hirotsugu Aida, author of a book on the Trump phenomenon, agreed that Trump misunderstood the U.S.-Japan security alliance but said he still did better than Clinton.
“Trump unexpectedly acted presidential. It might be a setback for Clinton, who wanted to make him look unsuitable for presidency,” he said.
Victor Andres Manhit, president of the think-tank Albert del Rosario Institute for Strategic and International Studies, welcomed Clinton’s assurances that the U.S. would honor its treaty obligations if she becomes president.
“I’m really hoping that that kind of statement reminds our own government that we have an ally in the United States vis-a-vis our fight for territorial integrity and our maritime rights in the South China Sea,” he said.
Richard Heydarian, a political science professor at Manila’s De La Salle University said he thought Clinton “was clearly the more prepared candidate and was able to handle Trump’s offensives with utmost finesse. Trump seemed more subdued than expected, but spent too much time defending himself on secondary issues and failed to build up on his vision for the American people, especially the middle classes.”
Spain’s main newspapers were unanimous in awarding victory to Clinton in the debate, each highlighting what they said was the Democratic Party candidate’s superior preparation and more convincing presidential image.
In its digital edition Tuesday, leading daily El País’ headline said “Clinton corners Trump with attacks on his racism and lack of preparation.” The center-left newspaper said that while neither candidate committed any major error, Clinton was able to put Trump on the defensive by questioning his “credentials as a businessman, accusing him of racism and placing in doubt his temperament to be commander in chief.”
The daily pointed out, however, that the debate was unlikely to bring about any major change in either candidate’s ratings.
Conservative daily ABC said that “the first debate does not resolve anything but it does leave the impression that the ex-secretary of state did her homework, knows the lesson better and transmits a more presidential image.”
Hungary’s left-leaning daily newspaper Nepszabadsag was impressed with Clinton’s performance: “Clinton prepared and gave Trump no chance,” was its headline.
“Hillary Clinton was prepared and confident, smiling as she attacked her Republican rival in the first candidate debate,” the paper’s report said. “Often, Trump was forced to defend himself and became entangled in explanations about his own business affairs and earlier statements.”