MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have both been critical over GOP nominee Donald Trump in recent months, but on Monday, they both praised him for what Brzezinski called an "epic" performance on Sunday night's presidential debate.
"This is the political reality, for the Republican base, Donald Trump delivered the attack against the Clinton machine that the Republican base in middle America [has] been waiting for, for years now," Scarborough commented the "Morning Joe" show he co-hosts with Brzezinski, going on to call Trump's explosive performance his "most effective" yet.
"My God, it was epic," Brzezinski, a liberal, who has admitted on the air that she could not be objective when it comes to Trump. "No Republican in America could have done what he did last night. It was vintage Trump. He produced a day-long show that rocked the political world."
Clinton was "on the defensive most of the night" and seemed "unsure of herself," while Trump, "who has made the Republican Party members' lives living and breathing hells for the past year and a half, last night turned it up to 11," said Scarborough. "And all of those people that jumped ship about halfway through the debate were looking at their TV saying, 'oh, shoot.'"
And when it comes to a leaked videotape of Trump using explicit language against women, Scarborough said "no Republican in America should have been surprised by what they heard on Friday" and he thinks many of those who backed away from Trump will be back.
"I think people who were never for him aren't shocked because this was the character of the man that they could never get behind," said Scarborough. "For these Republicans that scurried away, and now may be forced to come back, if Donald Trump were up by 10 points, would they have ran away on Friday? I think that's the point we're making. They're such hypocrites. They scurry away when he's behind. You watch, if he gets five points ahead, they'll come back."
Bloomberg Politics managing editor Mark Halperin said on the show that Trump had "nothing to lose."
"I learned in my 20s not to get in a bar fight with a guy who has nothing to lose," said Halperin, and Trump "stripped away any pretense of being a politician, any pretense of civility and said 'I'm throwing everything at her.'"
Trump, he continued, got to stand on a stage and say the things Republicans have been saying and emailing "for a generation," and while Halperin doesn't think the debate will bring Trump new voters, it will still energize his base and his campaign.
Nicolle Wallace, former communications director for President George W. Bush, said Trump's debate performance reflected the efforts of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and advisers Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie to get him to prepare for the debate.
"What you saw was someone who had done real prep, with someone playing Hillary Clinton, with someone playing a moderator, and preparing to answer questions for 90 minutes," said Wallace. "He went in there way behind, and I think he's still behind in this race. And the kinds of people that he needed to win over were the ones that were repulsed by his talk of grabbing the p-word. I don't think people repulsed by his talk of grabbing the p-word were turning back in his favor last night."
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