RALEIGH, N.C.— "Did anybody see that debate last night? Ooooh yes," Hillary Clinton said, her first words after striding confidently out on stage at Wake Technical Community College Tuesday afternoon.
As a capacity crowd cheered, she added, "One down, two to go."
Celebration and relief added to the thick humidity of late summer at Clinton’s event in North Carolina. Post-debate analysis is in that awkward in-between state, after the pundits have rendered their verdicts and before high-quality polling has measured the nation’s response. But the Democratic nominee seemed sure that she was the victor.
It was Clinton’s first event after the first presidential debate Monday evening in Hempstead, New York. One sign of her confidence coming out of that encounter: As I approached the rally, a man asked for a hand loading a heavy box into his car. He was the teleprompter man, he said, but when he arrived in Raleigh, he’d been told that Clinton had decided to do without the prompter. He was turning around and heading back to Washington, D.C.
The campaign said more than 1,600 people attended the event, 200 of them squeezing into an overflow room. Waiting to file into a gymnasium, many Clinton supporters said they scored the night a clear win for Clinton. Two weeks ago in Greensboro, N.C., many voters said they weren’t rattled by tightening polls. But the worry had arrived in Raleigh, and the supporters I spoke with seemed calmed but not ready to let their guards down.