Hillary Clinton Winning All Three Debates Is Harder Than She Made It Look

The news since Wednesday night's third and final presidential debate wrapped up has mostly been focused on Republican nominee Donald Trump's scary and unbelievable move, saying he may or may not accept the election results — even when prodded by Fox News' Chris Wallace, of all people. America has to wait "in suspense" for him to take a look at things then. That's extremely newsworthy, but there's something else worth noting about the night, and it's actually positive: Hillary Clinton won three straight presidential debates.

Yes, as political consultant and writer Stuart Stevens pointed out on Twitter, that's a really big deal. "Don't underestimate how hard that is," he posted. "Tremendous amount of work by her & staff in prep." According to a CNN/ORC poll, she bested Trump by 13 percentage points. A slim majority — 52 percent — of the respondents said she did the best job, compared to just 39 percent for Trump. That's not as good as the first or second debates, but it still shows just how prepared she is for this kind of thing. Back in 2012, even Pres. Obama stumbled and lost his first debate to Mitt Romney.

The kinds of comments and responses that Clinton had show the degree to which she's been thinking about her performance, the questions she might be asked, and the perfect way to goad Trump into showing his true colors. Just listen to her explanation of her decades of public service, when she lined herself up against Trump. In the '70s, she noted that she was working for the Children’s Defense Fund trying to stop racial discrimination in schools; Trump was "getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination apartment buildings." She carried it on to the 90s and today:

I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former miss universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine. And on the day when I was in the situation room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was host "The Celebrity Apprentice."

She took time off the campaign trail to focus solely on the debate. Clinton's communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told ABC News that the time was well spent — even if it meant fewer campaign stops. "We have found that that is very worthwhile," Palmieri told the network. "This is the last one. We are hoping for another large audience, and it's her last time in front of the biggest audience, and we want to make sure we're [making] the best use of that." And she really did.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Some of the best moments for Clinton were prompted by her pulling punches on questions that should have had her retreating. She was asked about emails from her campaign that were released by WikiLeaks, and she managed to turn her response into a challenge to Trump to condemn Russian hacking. She even called him Putin's "puppet." That was an extremely clever and effective.

So sure, Trump may have placed the final dagger with his reckless and nonsensical dig at democracy and peaceful transitions of power, but Clinton came armed to take him on, and did so for the third straight time. That is no small accomplishment, and she should be commended for her hard work. I hear being president's a hard job too.