'Trumped up trickle down' and other wisecracks at first Trump-Clinton US presidential debate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands at the first US Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Sept 26, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shake hands at the first US Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on Sept 26, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

With the first US presidential debate out of the way - and two more scheduled before the November 8 ballot - The Straits Times rounds up some humorous reactions to what was said and done in the face-off between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Soundbites parodied

"Trumped up trickle down economics" is what Mrs Clinton called Mr Trump's assertion that all households will grow wealthier from tax cuts for the rich.

Comedian Sara Benincasa seized on the phrase's potentially awkward overtones. Referring to the Mexican city that is a popular party destination for Americans, she tweeted: "Trumped Up Trickle Down sounds like the aftereffect of an uncomfortable surprise after a really vigorous night in Cancún."

Meanwhile, Mr Trump swatted away Mrs Clinton's assertion that Russia was behind recent cyberattacks against the United States. "It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds," he said.

Some viewers took umbrage at his characterisation of hackers and other computing aficionados as obese and house-bound.

In response, Broadway sensation Lin-Manuel Miranda posted a clip of Angelina Jolie's character in the 1995 movie Hackers.

The police department in Lawrence, Kansas also made fun of Mr Trump's speaking style and the American custom of playing drinking games during presidential debates. The department tweeted that "games where you drink every time someone says 'yuge' leads to binge drinking, and we discourage that strongly".

Sniffs and sighs

Mr Trump's heavy sniffling throughout the night earned him a parody Twitter account, @TrumpSniff, amid accusations that his sniffs were his "tell" that gave away his flustered demeanour. 

Some commenters suggested that Mr Trump used cocaine, an illegal drug that is snorted. 

Supporters of Mrs Clinton also gleefully seized on his sniffling, after he previously lambasted her bout of pneumonia and demanded proof that she was medically fit for office.

"I hope Trump releases his sniffle-related medical records," wrote feminist author Jessica Valenti.

"We thought Clinton was the sick one?" Newsweek wrote. "And yet Trump, clearly had a cold or allergies."

Bloomberg also noted: "Often when Clinton was speaking, Trump could be heard off-camera making a skeptical sigh."

The interest in Mr Trump's exhalations may have overshadowed part of his message. The Guardian ran a story with the headline "Trump's sniffles distract viewers at first presidential debate with Clinton".

Gendered expectations

"Tonight's US presidential debate will be shown in gender studies classes for years to come", a Quartz headline read, criticising Mr Trump for interrupting Mrs Clinton repeatedly - 51 times, to be exact, compared with the 17 times she spoke over him.

 

Vox summarised the interruptions as "an unprepared man repeatedly shouting over a highly prepared woman", and Time, which called the debate "a battle of the sexes", said that "Trump exercised all the subtle put-downs familiar to almost any woman who has sat through a business meeting with a dismissive man".

The Washington Post later referred to the debate as "the mansplaining Olympics".

In a wry reference to Mrs Clinton's all-red outfit, writer and blogger Sady Doyle tweeted: "I see Hillary has come dressed in the blood of men who have underestimated her."

The missing moderator

NBC news anchor Lester Holt, who served as the debate's moderator, took a restrained approach to the to-and-fro between the candidates. His style did not go over well with viewers who would have preferred he press them on the veracity of their claims.

Academic and activist Marc Lamont Hill suggested a #WhereIsLester hashtag.

Tongue firmly in cheek, former American football player Tom Crabtree tweeted "RIP" at Mr Holt.

And billionaire Chris Sacca parodied the US practice of printing alerts of missing children on the side of milk cartons, tweeting: "Just grabbed some milk from the fridge and sure enough @LesterHoltNBC's picture is on the side of the carton."

The New Yorker's satire columnist Andy Borowitz turned the crowd's dismay into a full news article, filing a story with the headline "CNN launches manhunt after Lester Holt vanishes from debate".