Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman calls Donald Trump's debate performance 'surreal'

By David Skolnick


Watching Republican Donald Trump at the first presidential debate was “surreal” to Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras.

“I don’t know what I was watching,” Betras said moments after Monday’s debate. “The racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny – it was crazy. I couldn’t believe a major party would nominate a candidate who speaks like that.”

The debate started out cordial, but quickly escalated into a war of words between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with the Republican repeatedly interrupting Clinton during the debate that lasted close to 100 minutes, about 10 minutes longer than scheduled.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, saw the debate as a victory for Trump.

“Donald Trump represents change, and [Monday] we saw him successfully take on the [President Barack] Obama-Clinton status quo,” said Johnson, whose district includes all of Columbiana County and the southern part of Mahoning County.

“The corrupt Clinton machine was no match for the original, authentic approach laid out by Donald Trump, which will put hard-working Americans first and make our country great again,” he added.

Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe acknowledged the debate didn’t have a winner.

“Neither candidate delivered a knockout punch, but Trump’s performance should reassure anyone who might have had doubts about his ability to fill the presidential role,” he said. “Hillary smiled plenty, but her ideas of higher taxes and more spending have worn thin. I think Trump’s straight talk about the country’s problems and his common-sense solutions will find a receptive audience.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who was at the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., said, “I really think it was a blowout by Hillary Clinton in style and substance. Donald Trump was obnoxious, talked over her” and his “debate etiquette was terrible.”

The congressman criticized Trump for his responses to questions about Obama’s “birther issue” in which the Republican nominee was among the most prominent people to falsely claim the president wasn’t born in this country, and that Clinton doesn’t have the “stamina” to be president.

Betras also mentioned the “stamina” statement, which Trump has used a number of times on the campaign trail.

Betras and Ryan said the comment is “sexist” and Trump is stating that as a woman, Clinton isn’t up to doing the job.

Trump “lacks the policy chops, the debating” skills, Ryan said, and “came across as someone who didn’t know what he was talking about.”

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