Donald Trump, a man who has made an ill-fitting dad hat the trademark accessory of his campaign, said earlier this month he felt that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, lacked a “presidential look.”
“I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,” Trump said. “You have to get the job done.”
As if in anticipation that Lester Holt, the moderator of the first presidential debate on Monday (Sept. 26) would invoke this ridiculous assertion, Clinton tweeted a photograph of herself looking very presidential indeed, with the caption: “Let’s do this. #DebateNight.”
A colleague noted the photo evoked “JFK levels of coolness,” and he wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t just her swept-back hair, black sunglasses, or nonchalantly shouldered sweater that did it. It was her confidence, which is, of course, the true source of coolness.
She betrayed the same coolness when she strode onto the stage at Hofstra University, in a round-collared red suit.
Author Sady Doyle noted Clinton was “dressed in the blood of men who underestimated her,” but really it was more of a tomato shade (though striking nonetheless).
It’s possible that Clinton, who predicted Trump would wear a “red power tie” on Between Two Ferns, was trying to surprise him by co-opting the shade. (In the end, he wore a blue one! There’s just no telling.)
But to call Clinton’s outfit “a power suit” would give the garment too much credit. The power came from Clinton, and how utterly unflappable and calm she remained. (Some thought she seemed “over-prepared,” which seems like a good way to be if you’re the first female candidate for the US presidency.)
It seems Clinton indeed surprised her opponent with “her presidential look,” as did Holt, by asking him about his original comment.
Rather than answering the question he was asked, Trump pulled a move I favored in middle school when the essay question wasn’t quite what I had hoped for: He just talked about something else—in this case, Clinton’s “stamina.”
“She doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. I don’t believe she does have the stamina,” he said. “You have to be able to negotiate trade deals.”
Clinton, whose red lipstick alone had more stamina than my entire couch-bound body during this debate, remained collected and classily retorted: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
It was a very presidential look.