A number of high-profile politicians from across Long Island and New York State attended the first presidential debate at Hofstra University on Monday — where tickets were reserved for an exclusive few.
They included Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, New York’s Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, State Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Steve Israel (D-Huntington).
Voters ultimately will decide who won Monday night’s debate, but just outside the hall at Hofstra pundits and surrogates for Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton offered their own spins.
Israel said in a statement, “We saw a contrast: Donald Trump was rude, reckless and rambling, and Hillary Clinton demonstrated absolute calm and command of the issues.”
Asked afterward how he believed Trump can improve between now and the next debate, King said, “I thought he did very well tonight — nothing to improve — but Hillary Clinton has got to improve.”
King said Trump was strongest on trade, adding of Clinton, “She was unable to refute any of his arguments on trade and the NAFTA agreement that her husband signed.”
Jay Jacobs, Nassau’s Democratic chairman and a Clinton supporter, said, “I think she was terrific. . . . She was on point and he was nonsensical at times.”
Jacobs said he felt Trump “was nasty to her” and faulted Trump for his interruptions and being rude to moderator Lester Holt.
Assemb. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) a Trump supporter, watched the debate at a viewing party at the University Club. He said he thought the debate was “a draw” and that Clinton “laid out more concrete plans.”
Robert Zimmerman, a Democratic National Committeemen from Great Neck who fundraisers for Clinton, said, “Hillary Clinton showed she is ready to be president. For Donald Trump it was his humbling at Hofstra.”
John Jay LaValle, a Trump surrogate and chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Committee, said Trump was “the clear winner.”
“I think Trump did very well,” he said. “It was a solid performance.”
He added that Trump “was serious.”
“His tone was amazing tonight,” LaValle said, adding Clinton was an experienced debater and “had a distinct advantage this evening and I don’t think she exceeded expectations.”
Roughly 1,000 tickets for the event were distributed by the Commission on Presidential Debates to the Clinton and Trump campaigns, sponsors and donors of the commission and Hofstra University students.
With Emily Ngo