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Pundits weigh in on debate performances

The instant post-debate analysis Monday night on cable and broadcast news networks credited GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump with a strong start on issues such as trade and jobs, but said Clinton was more consistent the rest of the debate.

“I thought those first 20 minutes, half hour of the debate, he was really doing well,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper. “The other hour-plus of the debate, not so much.”

Fox News’ Brit Hume said Trump was effective in the first 10 to 15 minutes, but ran into trouble on the “birther issue” after moderator Lester Holt asked why it was only five years after President Obama released his Hawaii birth certificate that he agreed Obama was born in the United States.

Fox’s Dana Perino said Trump had strong points hammering Clinton on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Clinton previously supported but now opposes.

But Perino said that later “Donald Trump was on his heels” on issues such as the Iraq War, which he insisted he always opposed despite assertions by Holt that he did not. Trump shouldn’t have spent so long defending himself on the issue, Perino said.

Even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a frequent surrogate for Trump, tweeted that Trump “did great at the beginning of the debate, then was ok. But we still have more debates to go.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw said, “Hillary’s composure and mastery of detail was consistent throughout” and she had a pleasant demeanor.

Trump, he said, “probably kept his constituency” but likely did not pull in new voters — echoing what several other commentators said.

NBC political contributor Nicolle Wallace said Clinton “certainly looked more presidential,” although she said that this year, it’s unclear how helpful that would be.

CNN’s Byron Pitts said Trump’s attempt to appeal to African Americans during a debate segment on race relations likely fell flat, while “I think Hillary did what she needed to do with black voters.”

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