Clinton dodged a bullet this weekend. On Friday evening, WikiLeaks released excerpts from speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, but, with the exception of conservative media, most outlets spent the weekend focused on a video of Trump bragging about using his fame to commit sexual assault.
But the speeches themselves were bad. Clinton discussed having a “private position” and a “public position,” said that people from Wall Street should be allowed to regulate the industry, and generally seemed troublingly cozy with bankers—all issues that could have cost her in the Democratic primary. Clinton knew that a question about those speeches would come up in the debate, and she should have had a better answer ready. Instead, she cited the movie Lincoln, which had come out around the time she made the speeches, and said, “As I recall, that was something I said about Abraham Lincoln. It was a master class watching Abraham Lincoln getting Congress to approve the Thirteenth Amendment. I was making the point that yes, it is hard to get Congress to do what you’re trying to do.”
In other words, I gave speeches to Wall Street because Lincoln helped pass legislation to free the slaves? And then Clinton launched into attacks on Trump’s ties to Russia and his refusal to pay taxes.
Trump had one kind of silly zinger, in which he said Hillary was trying to cover up a lie by citing “the late, great Abraham Lincoln,” who would be ashamed of her lies. (Actually, Lincoln lied quite a bit.) But then he saved her. He took the bait and spent the majority of his answer rambling on and on about his non-ties to Russia.
Clinton got lucky—Trump has done nothing tonight to save the freefall that he’s in. But that might not be true forever: four weeks is a long time. She needs to come up with a better answer about these transcripts.