'Harsh but no knockout blow': Europe's media react to Clinton-Trump duel

Europe's media react to first US presidential debate

Europe has woken up to headlines dominated by the first televised debate between U.S. presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The European press largely applauded the Democratic nominee for being "poised" and "prepared" during the debate - whose subject matters ranged from the economy to foreign policy - and her ability to "unhinge" Republican Trump, who appeared rattled by Clinton's comments early on in the debate.

Germany's Der Spiegel noted that billionaire businessman-turned-politician Trump was "erratic and uncertain" during what it called the "spectacular duel" that was watched by an estimated 100 million people and hosted by NBC News' Lester Holt.

Meanwhile, France's Le Monde newspaper noted that Clinton trumped Trump by attacking his record on women, his role in the "birther" campaign against President Barack Obama, leading Trump, the paper said, to "drown in his own speeches."

Read MoreHere are the best moments of the Clinton-Trump debate

However, many commentators warned that despite Clinton's apparent victory on the night, it might not have been enough to sway disaffected voters and that Trump was still a force to be reckoned with.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

In London, political commentators in the left-leaning Guardian newspaper said that Trump became "unhinged" mid-way through the debate. One writer, Jill Abramson, said Trump "could not help but show himself to be unfit for office."

"Driven, as usual, by ego, he unwisely made the debate about himself," she noted, although she also criticized Clinton for appearing "too pleased with herself" as she smiled while listening to Trump get tangled up at times in his responses.

There is a general concern among both Europe's left-leaning and center-right media – as well as the business world – that, if he got to the White House, Trump could be a loose cannon judging from past controversial comments he has made on women, migrants, Muslims and foreign countries.

Read More'Apocalypse now?' What Europe's media thought of the Trump speech

In light of by-now-notorious comments, Europe's media largely mocked Trump's assertion that he had a temperament better-suited for the presidency than Clinton.

"Trump was on the defensive throughout, shouting and interrupting his rival - all of which made his claim that his temperament was his strongest asset even more laughable," Chris Graham wrote in the right-leaning Telegraph newspaper.

Recent polls show that the two candidates are neck and neck in the polls ahead of the November election, making the televised debates a key opportunity for the candidates to persuade undecided voters.

Another writer in the Telegraph noted that Trump might still be able to win over undecided voters, despite his under-performance last night.

"Clinton showed her class on foreign policy and did very well to rebuff Mr Trump's repeated attacks. Her meticulous preparation showed.

Objectively she won the debate by a mile," Barney Henderson wrote. However, he added that "having watched Mr Trump win debate after

debate for more than a year when his performance simply seemed waffling and offensive, I think once again what he said tonight could resonate with some of the wavering, disaffected voters."

Italy's press, including La Repubblica and the Corriere della Sera newspaper led their coverage of the debate on issues which caused sparks to fly between Clinton and Trump: "Employment, the economy, racial tensions and terrorism."

As La Repubblica noted, however, while the debate was "harsh" and "characterized by low blows from both sides," neither candidate had landed "the knockout blow."

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