Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump face off in first presidential debate
In a battle of preparation versus instinct, preparation triumphed in a major way.
For weeks, Democrats worried that a newer, more disciplined, more effective Donald Trump might emerge during their first debate and benefit from low expectations to steal a win from the more experienced Hillary Clinton.
Instead, Clinton gained the upper hand early as Trump grew defensive over personal attacks, dissembled or contradicted himself on key issues, and reopened old wounds on gender and race along the way.
He sniffed and huffed his way through the debate, calling Clinton’s treatment of him “not nice” and insisting of her attacks, “I don’t deserve that.”
Other times he was hostile, speaking over Clinton in an attempt to dominate her the way he overpowered his male rivals in the Republican primary.
But the aggression that made him the big man on the primary debate stage did not seem to help him in the more sober general election format. And instead of trying to match Trump’s force head-on, Clinton incited, dodged, and countered from the flank with the flair of a matador.
These photographs were shot on assignment by photographer Mark Peterson for MSNBC Photography as part of his ongoing body of work “Political Theatre,” which examines the landscape of the American political system.