Conservatives Grudgingly Give Clinton The Edge Or Call It A Draw In First Debate

Conservative pundits criticized the performance of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate, but many grudgingly gave the edge to the former secretary of state.

The consensus Monday night seemed to hold that Trump performed well in the first half of the debate, but stumbled as the 90-minute event dragged on. The real estate mogul was pressed to explain his changing record on the Iraq War, his recently-renounced belief that President Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States, and his past derogatory remarks about women.

Several commentators insisted that whatever the results, moderator and NBC News anchor Lester Holt gave Hillary Clinton easier questions (Trump himself said Holt did “a great job” and that the questions were “very fair”).

One publication immediately jumped to Trump’s defense. Breitbart News, which has openly supported the billionaire businessman’s campaign and whose chairman, Steve Bannon, is currently serving as Trump’s campaign CEO, pushed a story at the conclusion of the debate that accused Holt of ripping questions “straight from the Clinton campaign’s talking points.”

Read reactions from other conservative writers and strategists below:

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in a debate wrap interview on MSNBC:

“I think Donald Trump won the first—I clocked it at 29 minutes when birtherism came up. He blew that badly, terribly, and it turned the debate around. She then delivered a knockout blow on speaking to our strategic allies.”

Daily Caller writer Jamie Weinstein:

Commentary editor Noah Rothman:

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson:

John Podhoretz, former Ronald Reagan speech writer and Commentary editor:

Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro:

Conservative writer and former Breitbart editor John Nolte wrote that the debate was “biased” in Clinton’s favor, but knocked Trump’s performance:

CNN commentator and former Ted Cruz spokeswoman Amanda Carpenter:

Conservative blogger AGConservative:

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld:

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