These 33 quotes tell you everything you need to know about the first presidential debate

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The most anticipated event of the 2016 presidential campaign has come and gone – but the fallout of Monday’s first presidential debate is likely to lead the news cycle in the days to come.

Following the Monday affair, both Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s backers and surrogates provided plenty of thoughts on the contest, which polls from CNN and Politico/Morning Consult showed viewers believed the former secretary of state won handily.

Those tasked with representing their respective candidates in the spin room following the titanic debate set the agenda for the presidential discussion

That is, until Trump and Clinton square off for a second time on October 9.

With that said, here are 33 comments from the spin room that say everything about Monday’s presidential debate:


“Yeah, absolutely. I think when they got over to foreign policy, he ended up, I think, spending way too much time responding to her. If he kept on the high ground there, she is a failure as a secretary of state.”

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia on if he felt there was anything Donald Trump could improve on for the second debate.


“Listen, he was making a side comment. He did that throughout the night. What he was talking about was making sure that, you know, he’s not paying too much in taxes. But I thought he handled that right.”

GOP Chair Reince Priebus responding to Donald Trump saying he was “smart” for not paying federal taxes.


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Chris Collins.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

“He needs to shorten his answers to be a little more succinct on tax policy or other things. He was having a conversation. But in that format, I think if he could be a little tighter, when he talked about the tax code, and making sure that people have more money left at the end of the year, it could be said in a lot fewer words than he said it. He meandered tonight.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, on how the Manhattan billionaire can improve his debate performance.


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Brian Fallon.
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“I think he came off as a Romney-style plutocrat. He defended the idea of not paying taxes [like that] was a smart move.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on Donald Trump saying he was “smart” for not paying federal taxes.


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Mark Cuban.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“Look, at some point you have to respect the fact that you’re American and you have an obligation to contribute to our society.”

Mark Cuban on Donald Trump saying he was “smart” for not paying federal taxes.


“And God knows how many pages they are. And [people would] say, ‘Why didn’t he give more money here? What happened with this partnership?’ with six weeks to go.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, explaining why Trump shouldn’t release his tax returns.


“I think that he struggles with transparency about his business dealings. I think he has worked the system, particularly the legal system, with bankruptcies and stiffing contractors. And I think he’s proud of that. I think he sees that as being an aggressive and smart businessman. I think most Americans see it as, it feels like the rules don’t apply to him.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on Donald Trump saying he’s “smart” for not paying federal taxes.


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Sara Huckabee Sanders.
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“I felt like we pretty much cleared that up. What I thought wasn’t fair was that we didn’t get to talk about the Clinton Foundation. We didn’t talk about Benghazi. We didn’t talk about the email scandal. We got to talk about all the attacks that Hillary’s camp has made on Donald Trump and pretty much ignored most of the big attacks that have been hit on Hillary over the last several weeks.”

Senior Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Donald Trump’s answer to the “birther” question.


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Chris Collins.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

“I thought the format was most strange. I thought Lester Holt lost control early on, and from that point on, it was almost kind of a free-for-all about how the comments went back and forth and how the topics were covered. Just, kind of strange.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, on the debate format.


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Claire McCaskill.
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Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

“I thought she did an eloquent job of talking about some of the challenges in the African-American community and how disrespectful Donald Trump has been by assuming that black people are voting for Democrats because they’re stupid, not because Democrats are presenting policies like Pell Grants and other things that really help provide more opportunities and invest in those communities.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on Hillary Clinton’s answer on the racial divide in the US.


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Reince Priebus.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“No, not at all, I think he was restrained. I think Donald Trump did a great job. And I think he showed the American people who actually want to pick the change candidate and they want to see the next president of the United States on stage and that’s what they saw tonight.”

GOP Chair Reince Priebus on if Donald Trump was overly aggressive during the debate.


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Reince Priebus.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

“What’s amazing to me is she had all of these plans tonight, all of these details, she remembered every detail, right? But 39 times when the FBI asked her whether she remembered anything about how she was trained at the [State Department], whether she even took training, anything she heard about emails, she couldn’t recall – 39 times she couldn’t remember a darn thing. That’s the Hillary Clinton that we know.”

GOP Chair Reince Priebus on Hillary Clinton’s debate performance.


“I thought she was far more presidential. He had to keep on interrupting, and she just kept on point. That’s what I think would happen on a global setting dealing with other countries.”

Mark Cuban addressing Donald Trump’s interruptions of Hillary Clinton.


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Chris Collins.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

“I think it’s Donald Trump the human being, being very relaxed. That’s what a human being would do. If you’re saying something about me that I don’t like, I’m going to interrupt you. I actually thought a couple of times it was strange that she didn’t interrupt him. Maybe she over-prepared or didn’t expect the format we ended up with.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, addressing Trump’s interruptions of Hillary Clinton.


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Rudy Giuliani.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“I think it’s outrageous that Lester Holt interfered in a legal discussion he knows nothing about on the side of Hillary Clinton. And I didn’t see him once interfere on the side of Donald Trump. He should be ashamed of himself.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Lester Holt’s performance as debate moderator.


“There were a lot of articles written six weeks ago- ‘look at the polls, the race is over, look at the polls, the race is over.’ I would say now, look at the polls. The race is on. It’s particularly on in states that Barack Obama carried twice, where Mitt Romney and John McCain both lost and they weren’t squeakers. Place like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire.”

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, on the tightening polls leading up to the debate.


“I don’t think anyone should release their tax returns. I’m just glad when Donald Trump doesn’t release them we’ll be done with this once and for all.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, on Trump saying he was “smart” for not paying federal income taxes.


“I think Lester Holt did a fine job. There are many issues I wish had been covered, but there’s only so much you can do in 90 minutes. I was glad that Mr. Trump raised Hillary Clinton’s emails, because otherwise, I’m not sure it would’ve been. He was the one who raised her emails, which is very much on America’s minds.”

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, on Lester Holt’s performance as the debate moderator.


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Mark Cuban.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“She was cool, calm, collected, and he was flustered. He was really, really flustered.”

Mark Cuban‘s initial take on the debate.


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Mark Cuban.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“Hillary blew it open in the first quarter, Trump had a better second quarter, and then Hillary ran away with it in the third quarter.”

Mark Cuban‘s analysis on how the debate progressed.


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Sara Huckabee Sanders.
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“I think he was making his point. And again, he was drawing the contrast. He is an unconventional candidate because he’s not a scripted career politician. Hillary Clinton is. I think she came across as robotic and cold.”

Senior Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Donald Trump’s interruptions of Hillary Clinton.


“I love the fact that he restrained himself tonight and he was a gentleman towards her, especially toward the end when she was doing the thing she’s done a million times in paid advertisements and in the mail pieces in Florida that we’ve seen about things he’s said here and there about women or a woman here and there over 25 years or 30 years.”

“He definitely could’ve gone where a lot of America was thinking he should or could go, which is to talk about her husband and women, and he did not and he restrained himself. You know what, restraint is a virtue, and certainly a presidential virtue and I think many voters, particularly women, probably saw that and respected that a great deal.”

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, on his threat to discuss Bill Clinton’s past near the end of the debate.


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Brian Fallon.
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“She clearly struck a nerve by pointing out that his business career was launched in part thanks to a loan from his father, and she wants to build an economy that empowers people that don’t have that fortune. And that clearly got under his skin. From that point on, his debate performance got more and more unsteady. He doubled-down on a bunch of lies from birtherism to his position on the Iraq War.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on Donald Trump’s “meltdown.”


“Mitt Romney was prepared. Mitt Romney was qualified. Mitt Romney did not spend the entire debate talking about himself instead of the American people. Mitt Romney was a worthy foe [to President Barack Obama] in American politics.”

“This guy is almost breaking his arm patting himself on the back. No specificity on how he’s going to help the American people. Just that he’s wonderful and everything is going to be great. I think it’s very unfair to compare him to Mitt Romney.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on comparisons between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.


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Mark Cuban.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“It was hard to tell. He was concentrating the whole time.”

Mark Cuban, who drew controversy after announcing he was seated in the front row, addressing whether Donald Trump ever glanced at him during the debate.


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Sara Huckabee Sanders.
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“Well I think he did exactly what he needed to do. He came out. He looked presidential, and he drew a very clear contrast with Hillary Clinton as the change agent in the race. She’s the status quo. Hillary has no credibility talking about what she will do, what she’s accomplished.”

Senior Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Donald Trump’s debate performance.


“Well, there are two ways to look at that. One is, at its face value. But what I’ve heard him say before is this: These are tax codes that incentivize people to invest. And you get a deduction for that, and you also get tax credits for that.”

“So there are companies and individuals who reduce their tax liability by investing in the things those bureaucrats, the very people that she’s talking about, herself as a senator, that voted for things that get people the incentive to invest, that puts money at risk, it creates jobs, it creates economic growth.”

“So just because somebody doesn’t pay that level of tax, and by the way, you’re talking to somebody that pays 38% over 10 years, that was my effective tax rate, so I’ve been on both sides of this, but I have to tell you is that what he said is not incorrect.”

“Now he should’ve explained it a little bit more, because the flip side of that is the reason these bureaucrats and politicians put incentives in there is they want people like Donald Trump to put their personal money at risk and invest capital to get the economy growing.”

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia on Donald Trump saying he was “smart” for not paying federal taxes.


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Brian Fallon.
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“I thought it was a pretty commanding victory. I think she followed the economic argument perfectly, and I think he had a meltdown on stage.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on whether Hillary Clinton can improve in any areas ahead of the second debate.


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Chris Collins.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Well, again, Trump supporters aren’t changing their minds tonight and Clinton supporters aren’t. The undecideds saw a human being in Donald Trump. He was relaxed. He spoke like a human being. If he didn’t like something she said, he let people know. If she said something untrue, he let people know. Better fact check that. He was very human.”

“Hillary, on the other hand, seemed a bit rattled by the format, or by him interrupting her at times. And she seemed to be struggling as to what to say or do, that was my sense.”

Rep. Chris Collins of New York, a backer of Donald Trump, on how the first debate went.


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Kellyanne Conway.
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Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

“Was he well enough prepared? Yes, of course. … Well, clearly Hillary Clinton jammed her head full of facts and figures for us and she was dying for all of us to hear tonight.”

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, after being asked if he prepared for the debate.


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David Perdue.
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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

“I think it’s a grand-slam home run for Donald Trump. Let me tell you why: In the first 10 minutes, he laid out the difference, the stark contrast, between what Hillary Clinton offers as the direction of this country and what he offers.”

Sen. David Perdue of Georgia on Donald Trump’s debate performance.


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Reince Priebus.
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Thomson Reuters

“I think he makes the point, and this is something Hillary Clinton can’t run away from. She deny the fact, she wants to deny the fact that that entire conversation didn’t start with her campaign. And a lot of you don’t want that to be the case. But it is true.”

“That deputy campaign manager did go on CNN and apologize for what happened and she did admit that she fired the staffer in Iowa. Sid Blumenthal did shop around the story. The guy from McClatchy made it clear that that was true. Mark Penn did write that memo. So she should apologize. She should apologize.”

GOP Chair Reince Priebus on Donald Trump’s answer to the birther question and whether he should apologize for leading the birther movement against President Barack Obama.


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Brian Fallon.
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“Awesome.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon giving one word to describe the debate.