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Trump tries to flip the 'bad temperament' back on Clinton

Donald Trump has taken a lot of heat for his fiery rhetoric but at the first presidential debate, he tried to flip that on Hillary Clinton.

"I have much better judgment than she does. There's no question about that," Trump said. "I also have a much better temperament than she has ... I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament."

The crowd laughed but Trump was unflappable.

"I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not have a winning temperament," Trump said.

Trump referred to an event a few days ago when Clinton was speaking to someone behind a blue screen.

"I don't know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control! I said, 'There's a person with a temperament who's got a problem."

To that, Clinton responded simply, "Woo! OK."

Was he successful in pinning temperament on her? I'm not so sure.

Making that claim is a bit of a tightrope walk for both candidates. Trump is clearly trying to tap into the feelings of the voters who say in poll after poll that the country in going in the wrong direction. So a calm, cool demeanor isn't the best move for him.

However, Clinton can't appear to be too cool, either, because that might make her appear too smug and it also might antagonize the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren supporters who are just as unhappy with the state of the country as Trump's core backers.

And, while these two candidates are tossing around the temperament issue like a hot potato, any good presidential historian will tell you that almost every president, starting with George Washington himself, has been known to have a fiery temper.

The only difference is, most of them came before the age of 24/7 news media and social media scrutiny, so they were able to better keep their tempers under wraps.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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