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Wow. Clinton just succeeded in sounding less honest than Trump

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.

Hillary Clinton had a great opportunity to clear up the new questions about her trustworthiness after an online question was asked to her concerning a statement she made in a speech to Wall Street donors. Instead, she inexplicably spent most of her answer time apparently bashing Abe Lincoln and the Russians. And by doing so, she also tacitly confirmed the leaked statements were true.

When asked about the Wikileaks revelation that she once told a paid Wall Street audience that you sometimes have to have "public and private personas," Clinton alluded to the movie "Lincoln" and insinuated that President Lincoln used not-so-open and honest strategies to get Congress to abolish slavery. Donald Trump was quick to ridicule that line of reasoning about "Honest Abe" during his response time.

But Clinton also spent much of her time not clarifying her statements, but going on a now-familiar rant about how the Russians may be responsible for these leaked speeches. This was a missed chance for her to do a better job of explaining what she said, or even saying those "two personas" comments were taken out of context.

It's not easy to appear less honest than Trump on a two-person stage. But Clinton did that tonight in response to that question about her leaked Wall Street speeches.

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

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