Out of the Blue: Trump vs. Hillary — the gloves come off (opinion)

Mike Restaino
Out of the Blue

Knowing I wanted to address the latest presidential debate this week, while I enjoyed a lazy football Sunday, when I wasn’t napping or checking my fantasy football scores, I scribbled down predictions of what I thought Hillary and Donald would bring to their second match-up.

There was the bombshell revelation of Trump spouting nasty comments about groping and assaulting women the Friday before, so it was likely that issue would enter the conversation at some point, but when? Would it be an early galvanizer, or would it be saved and used as a late-round showstopper?

Here are some of my well-thought-out, airtight predictions, and how they turned out:

1. There’s no way Donald Trump would bring up Bill Clinton and his infidelities. Too risky, considering his multiple marriages and the dangerous quicksand around their ignoble ends.

Here I am, wrong right out of the bat. Before the contest even started, Trump sat front and center for a press conference, flanked by four women who have in the past accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or harassment.

The plan here was to admit that Trump has a history of using vulgar sexual rhetoric when it comes to women, but as he later claimed during the debate, he’s a “gentleman” — where he engaged in “locker room talk” about grabbing non-consenting women where they should absolutely not be grabbed, Bill Clinton actually acted on his sexual exploits and Hillary threatened those women as a result of them.

But in fine form, while Hillary didn’t look pleased having to address Donald’s meandering attacks when he finally unleashed them, she “aimed high” and kept things calm and steadfast.

Here’s my question for Trump supporters: If Hillary had stooped to Trump’s level in his muckraking and invited Ivana and Marla Maples to sit in that debate crowd, how would Donald have reacted?

2. Trump will give running mate Mike Pence accolades for a fine performance in last week’s VP debate.

Yup, I’m wrong again here, but the way Pence came into the conversation was one of the more telling evidences of Trump’s failing campaign. In his VP debate, Pence never doubled-down on agreeing with specific policy points of Trump’s, nor did he align himself distinctly with Donald’s gross statements about Mexican rapists or Rosie O’Donnell.

Pence did, however, wiggle around these issues, constructing confidently oblique responses that allowed him to stay on Trump’s side without having to unequivocally take that side.

But when Trump was asked about what kind of action the U.S. should take with Syria, Martha Raddatz quoted his running mate’s take on the situations: “(Pence) said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

This seems like an easy addition to the gruff Trump international policy platform — upgrade those nukes, replace our generals with “better” ones, and go make the world great again, right? Alas, Donald was shockingly concise and to-the-point.

“He and I haven’t spoken,” he said. “And I disagree.” Burn!

I feel like the next face-to-face interaction between Pence and Trump will look a lot like the final segment of an episode of The Apprentice. But I want to ask Pence candidly — does he really want the job working for Trump, or does he just want to stomach the “You’re fired” and head back to Indiana?

In short, I was way off in my debate predictions — embarrassingly so. I mean, who would have thought it was going to end nicely (or at least under the shiny veneer of nicety)?

Hillary cited Trump’s able and devoted children as aspects she respects about Donald, and her opponent — always one who loves compliments, regardless of context or motivation — appreciated the sentiment.

Trump was off-character in closing, too, reaffirming what most of us already know — that Hillary is a fighter, someone who will never back down. This public display, while admittedly not squeaky-clean earnest, nevertheless prompted throw my guesses into the recycle bin.

We have a month to go. I remain enthusiastic and engaged, but if this latest debate started with Paula Jones and ended with Hillary saying something classy about Trump’s kids, these coming four weeks could go any which way.

Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a Vice Chair of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at

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