Trump, Clinton plot divergent paths to victory following raucous debate

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump got right back to the campaign trail Tuesday following the first presidential debate – one infused with fresh momentum and the other licking wounds he insists don’t exist.

Both campaigns, unsurprisingly, claimed victory.

Initial polls indicate that Clinton ran away with the night, while headlines predominately focused on Trump’s odd – and often untrue – remarks and the bevy of personal jabs exchanged onstage for 90 minutes.

This wasn’t just any debate. It was the most watched debate in 60 years of TV history, leaving tens of millions of viewers with strong and lasting impressions.

In total, CNN’s instant poll found that 62 percent of viewers said Clinton won the debate, with Trump only capturing 27 percent.

Clinton reinvigorated

Clinton’s aim is to now convert her solid debate performance into a durable electoral advantage, strengthening her once-strong lead that’s been rapidly eroding.

The Democratic nominee will spend the next two days in two swing states, North Carolina and New Hampshire. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will join Clinton in the Granite State to gather more enthusiasm among young voters.

Clinton will continue her new push to give voters an inspiring candidate to support, rather than solely contrasting herself with Trump.

Meanwhile, expect attack ads featuring Trump’s debate statements to start rolling in from her well-funded political allies.

Trump recalibration?

Team Trump hoped for a sedate, coherent debate performance.

What they got was classic Trump; passionate, spontaneous, aggressive, and off message.

Trump left the debate stage Monday evening complaining of a faulty microphone – which he insists made him appear to incessantly sniffle rather than broadcast his completely normal breathing pattern – and touting his debate “win” on Twitter.

The billionaire proudly shunned traditional debate prep, his campaign dismissing it as an activity of a “career politician.” Given the backlash to his first debate, his team will certainly suggest a different approach next time.

Trump campaigns in the Miami area Tuesday before moving on to Illinois on Wednesday.

With Election Day less than six weeks away, voters will be listening for any change of tone or message from the GOP nominee.

Future debates

Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani has advised his friend to skip the next two debates, reports Politico, due to an “incorrect, ignorant fact checker.”

Republican insiders appeared unhappy that debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News fact-checked both candidates, zeroing in on several of Trump’s glaring falsehoods.

Holt most pointedly challenged Trump’s assertions that he opposed the invasion of Iraq (he didn’t) and that stop-and-frisk was deemed legal (it wasn’t).

Exiting the debate stage, Trump struck a conciliatory tone, saying Holt did “a great job.”

But by Tuesday morning, Trump complained of Holt’s “hostile questions.”

For now, both Trump and Clinton are scheduled to appear at the next town hall debate, moderated by ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, on October 9 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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