During Monday night’s debate, Donald Trump missed two big opportunities to exploit some of Hillary Clinton’s weak points. Both were presented in the form of softball questions tossed at him by moderator Lester Holt. The first came when Holt asked him how he would protect Americans from cyber terrorism and hacking. But Trump chose to talk about non-cyber-related terrorism instead. It was the perfect opening for him to criticize Clinton on her use of a private, unsecured server. He could have turned to her and said, “You, Secretary Clinton, made your server containing all of those classified emails an easy target for cyber terrorists and hackers. You put our country’s security in jeopardy for the sake of your own personal convenience. Shame on you!” He did mention her emails in an earlier discussion about his taxes, but this would have been the perfect moment for him to put them in context with a breach in national security. And then he could have pounded her about the lies she told about them. However, for some reason, he chose to squander that opportunity.
The second came when Trump was asked by Holt what he would do about the dangers of lone-wolf terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Instead of answering Holt’s question, Trump continued to talk about how he would combat ISIS in the Middle East. But the American people are lot more concerned about terror over here than over there. And during the primaries, Trump’s poll number always went up whenever he emphasized keeping Americans safe from attacks here at home, such as the one that occurred in San Bernardino, CA. The question was a perfect opportunity for him to talk about his “extreme vetting” plan compared to Clinton’s insistence on taking in thousands of additional Syrian refugees. He could then have segued into talking about his plan to build a border wall and curb illegal immigration, comparing his stance to Clinton’s open border policy. But he let that opportunity slide right through his fingers as well. Perhaps he’ll take advantage of such opportunities next time. His supporters can only hope so.