MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The first presidential debate is in the books and WMBF News' political expert is breaking it down.
Holley Tankersley, with Coastal Carolina University, said Republican nominee Donald Trump's stand-out moments were at the top of Monday night's debate. She noted he seemed at times to be holding Democrat Hillary Clinton's feet to the fire.
"He came across as kind of the fighter image that he's tried to portray for the average American worker, particularly on trade issues," Tankersley said.
However, after those 20 minutes, Tankersley said she observed Trump's responses fell back on emotion rather than being prepared for questions or attacks she feels his campaign must have seen coming.
Two examples she mentioned were the war in Iraq and birtherism when it comes to President Barack Obama.
When it came to Clinton's emails, Trump hit hard.
"That was more than a mistake. That was done purposely," Trump said Monday.
Tankersley said Clinton had a clear and concise response.
"That was the first time she had a three-part response, which was I shouldn't have done it, I definitely won't do it again and I'm sorry," Tankersley said.
Trump related those emails to releasing his tax returns, which is a move Tankersley believes would have worked if he had stopped there.
"I will release my tax returns against my lawyer's wishes when she releases her 33,000 emails that she deleted," Trump said.
However, he didn't. Instead, Tankersley said Trump made comments insinuating he might not have paid federal taxes, revealing an interesting moment.
"Because one of the things that have been attractive about him for many voters is that he's a successful businessman and that he will represent the common person and bring a change to Washington," Tankersley said. "And I think that response, I think, almost suggests that he is part of the 1 percent, that he is part of the 1 percent."
While Tankersley said Trump also struggled through attacks regarding a former Miss Universe contestant and whether or not Clinton had the presidential "look" versus stamina, she believed what was clear through Monday's debate is the issue of preparedness and how each of the candidates will prepare from here.
"This preparation question, because it gets at something larger," she said. "It's about do you know how to govern."
While Tankersley believed Clinton came out on top Monday night in terms of policy and typical debate points, she expects true polls showing the outcome to come out the beginning of next week.
There are six weeks until Americans cast their votes and choose the next president of the United States.