By Steve Holland
MELBOURNE, Fla. (Reuters) – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump got back on message on Tuesday after Democrat Hillary Clinton put him on the defensive at their first debate, and he cast her as “stuck in the past” and himself as a change agent.
Trump’s speech to thousands at a rally in a Florida airport hangar included some points that some supporters wished he had made before the record television audience of 84 million people for the debate on Monday in Hempstead, New York.
One was Clinton’s promise during her successful campaign to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 to create jobs in upstate New York.
When Clinton pledged at Monday’s debate that her economic plan would create millions of jobs, Trump did not use the opportunity to point out she oversold how many jobs she could create in upstate New York.
Trump raised the issue on Tuesday in Melbourne, Florida, about 70 miles east of Orlando on Florida’s Atlantic coast where several defense and technology companies have operations.
“She pledged 200,000 jobs for upstate New York. It’s so sad when you see what has happened to upstate New York. It’s a disaster. She said she was going to do something about it… This is exactly what would happen if she ever won,” he said.
Trump’s first campaign day after his debate performance, which received mixed reviews from voters, was aimed at taking advantage of polls showing him in a tight race in Florida with 41 days to go until the Nov. 8 election.
“For 90 minutes, Secretary Clinton was stuck in the past. For 90 minutes, on issue after issue, Secretary Clinton defended the terrible status quo – while I laid out our plan to bring jobs, security and prosperity back to the American people,” he said.
Earlier, at a Cuban bakery in Miami’s Little Havana area, Trump sipped coffee and ordered pastries and empanadas and heard cries of “Viva Trump” from some patrons there.
Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Trump held a roundtable discussion with Latino supporters, an effort to bolster his support among Hispanic-American voters who worry about his hardline immigration policy.
At that event, a Trump supporter, Irina Vilarino, a Cuban-American restaurant owner, told reporters that Trump needs to show improvement at his next debate on Oct. 9 in St. Louis.
“He needs to take this debate and learn from his mistakes,” she said. “And I think he needs to address the issues that are pertinent to everyday Americans on the street.”
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)