• Pat Opperman


This was commissioned as a 500-word "unpopular opinion" side-bar to a larger election piece.

Democrats and pundits already laid out dozens of opinions and charges in their bid to explain how Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton last week.

Bad polling, broken FBI protocols, and even prejudices may have been factors, but one big mistake by Hillary is really what lost the presidency.

Can you remember when Clinton seemed to be pulling away? It was after the second debate, during which Trump seemed unable to exhibit the control his opponent demonstrated.

Hillary’s demeanor remained unaffected by Trump’s interruptions and rude comments. She almost seemed presidential. The combination resulted in a Hillary poll surge. Her lead was double-digits nationally and in many key states.

Ironically, it was that second debate that led to her downfall. The poll leads never grew after that first week. In fact, the numbers quickly started to return to pre-debate levels.

There was one nagging issue that prevented surge voters from fully committing to the Clinton candidacy and Hillary reminded them of it with one inexplicable line from the debate.

All was going well for Clinton when the issue of trade was raised. Trump correctly reminded the audience that Hillary once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the gold standard of trade agreements.

This was not controversial. Millions of viewers watched the first debate in which Hillary admitted the same thing. She explained that she withdrew her support for TPP after learning some details. Everyone knew this.

That would prove fatal for Clinton.

Why? Because this time she just couldn’t resist trying to deny the facts. Instead of repeating the explanation from the first debate and validating what every pundit reported for two weeks, Hillary came up with the line that would ultimately sink her candidacy.

She denied ever supporting the TPP and instead offered that she “really said” that an agreement like the TPP could be the gold standard of trade agreements.

Fact-checkers would determine that Donald Trump lied or stretched the truth about almost ninety percent of what he said in the second debate.

But with one inexplicable attempt at twisting a fact everyone knew to be true, it was Hillary who came away with fresh questions about her biggest weakness: trustworthiness.

There were certainly more faults than one in Clinton’s performance, but the TPP defense was so blatant and so obvious that it became the focal point of post-debate comments.

It so powerfully played to the wariness of the Clinton Machine’s deceptive and shady practices that it prevented the post-debate surge from holding up to the reopening of the Clinton e-mail controversy.

There were many miscalculations by the Clinton campaign that contributed to her defeat. But her inability to get past the trustworthiness issue, even against an opponent who graded out as the most distrustful candidate in history, was the biggest.

Hillary had the chance to walk away from the brightest stage of her career looking like she was worthy of our trust. Unfortunately, her most glaring weakness derailed her and she was never able to recover.


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