×

Trump blows it with response to Supreme Court questions

The core of Donald Trump's success in this election has been the fact that he's sounded and acted so differently from Republican candidates of the past. But his answers and focus during the first segment of the debate about the Supreme Court sounded like the same old losing GOP messages on guns and abortion. In short, he blew it in that segment and Hillary Clinton scored some points.

While moderator Chris Wallace did specifically ask about 2nd Amendment rights and cases, Trump actually mentioned the issue first. But Trump clearly already has the pro-gun rights vote locked up tight. And by not clarifying why Clinton's statements about protecting "toddlers" from guns were inaccurate, he made her sound a lot more reasonable.

On abortion, Trump has been fumbling opportunities to spike that hopeless political wedge issue and get on to more pressing legal issues. Instead, he sounded a lot like former Republican Senator Rick Santorum when he said he hoped the judges he'd appoint to the Supreme Court would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. America is still mostly divided on abortion, but it's clear that most voters aren't clamoring for changing the abortion laws as they stand now. Clinton again was able to sound more reasonable in that exchange.

But the most egregious fumble by Trump in the Supreme Court segment was his failure to pick up on Clinton's promise to attack the Citizens United decision that allowed for almost unlimited campaign contributions from corporations. It's amazing that Clinton, the No. 1 recipient of corporate campaign donations of all time, would ever bring up Citizens United at all. Trump never rebutted Clinton's promise or bothered to openly question why she could possibly be qualified to stand up to something she's benefited from more than any American in history.

The Supreme Court segment was handed to Clinton on a silver platter.

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

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.