By: Hunter Crowther
Unpaid federal taxes, job creation, terrorism, international trade and the candidates’ temperament will be remembered as topics of the first U.S. presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Monday night at Hofstra University in New York.
The 90-minute debate, moderated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt, was supposed to feature each candidate detailing their campaigns and what they’d do if elected into office.
The former secretary of state promoted building an economy that forms new jobs with rising incomes, creating clean renewable energy, and equal pay for women. The New York real estate developer and reality TV star mentioned bringing back jobs from countries like Mexico and China, and implementing massive tax cuts for small and big businesses.
It wasn’t long before the two candidates traded blows and attacked each other’s record on several topics. Trump interrupted Clinton more than 50 times as she gave her responses, while the Democratic nominee appeared measured as she calmly worked through her answers.
Trump’s tax returns
When Holt asked the Republican nominee if the American people had a right to know if there were any conflicts of interest in his tax returns, Trump responded by saying he would release them if Clinton released the 33,000 deleted emails from her private home server.
Clinton, the first female presidential candidate in modern history for a major party in U.S. history, called Trump’s response “another example of bait and switch.”
“For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns,” said Clinton. “We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit. So you’ve got to ask yourself why won’t he release his tax returns?”
The former senator of New York then suggested Trump was not as rich or charitable as he claims, or that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes for years.
The self-proclaimed billionaire interjected by saying that makes him smart.
“Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality.” -Hillary Clinton
Emails, climate change and trade
Clinton said using a private email was a mistake and she would do it differently, Trump cut her off to say “that’s for sure.”
At one point during the debate, Clinton, 68, brought up the 2008 financial housing crisis, accusing Trump of rooting for a collapse in the market.
“That’s called business, by the way,” he responded.
Clinton followed that up by accusing Trump of saying climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
“I did not – I do not say that. I do not say that,” he repeated over top of her claims.
However, this string of tweets from Trump’s feed suggest the 70-year-old is a climate change denier.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2013
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
NBC News just called it the great freeze – coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2014
Trump went on to call the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in December 1993 by Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.”
“Well, that’s your opinion,” replied Clinton.
The New York real estate mogul brought up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying Clinton called it “the gold standard of trade deals” and “the finest deal (she had) ever seen.”
“Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality,” Clinton replied.
At one point, Trump said Ford is moving jobs to Mexico, but during the debate, the vehicle manufacturer tweeted out a graphic saying it is hiring — not firing — workers in the U.S.
Ford has more hourly employees and produces more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker. pic.twitter.com/k15cqknsvX
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) September 27, 2016
The ‘birther’ issue
When Holt asked Trump about only recently admitting President Barack Obama was indeed born in the United States, Trump only congratulated himself on being the one that got him to produce the birth certificate.
Trump then patted himself on the back for developing “very, very good relationships” with the African-American community.
“I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate,” said Trump.
“Well, just listen to what you heard,” Clinton said, her response met with audience laughter. “He knew he was going to stand on this debate stage, and Lester Holt was going to be asking us questions, so he tried to put the whole racist birther lie to bed.
“But it can’t be dismissed that easily.”
The former first lady said Trump’s political career started off a “racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen,” then going back as far as 1973, rehashing when Trump was sued twice by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent out to African-Americans.
Cyber Security and Terrorism
When the topic of cyber security came up, Clinton mentioned fighting against two types of adversaries: independent hacking groups who do it for financial gain, and cyber attacks from terrorist organizations.
She said she was troubled by Russia’s role in hacks on the U.S., specifically the Democratic National Committee, which had emails leaked showing bias towards Clinton over Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic leadership race last July. She said she was confused as to why Trump has made an effort to establish a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and for inviting “Putin to hack into Americans.”
“It’s one of the reasons why 50 national security officials who served in Republican administrations have said that Donald is unfit to be the commander-in-chief,” said Clinton.
“I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not know how to win.” -Donald Trump
Regarding the fight against Daesh, also known as the Islamic State, Trump said Clinton and Obama “created a vacuum” when they pulled soldiers from Iraq. He continued saying the United States should have “taken the oil” in Iraq, despite this being illegal, according to international law.
Clinton encouraged Americans to cooperate with Muslim nations and with the Muslim community.
“They need to have close working cooperation with law enforcement in these communities, not to be alienated and pushed away, as some of Donald’s rhetoric unfortunately has led to,” said Clinton.
She repeatedly attacked Trump’s stance on the Iraq War, creating one of the more tense moments of the night. Holt followed up by questioning Trump’s judgement when the record showed he contradicts himself.
Trump’s temperament, Clinton’s stamina
Trump countered that he had both better judgement and a “much better temperament than she has,” a response that was met with laughter through the audience.
“I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not know how to win,” Trump said.
Before the 90-minutes ran out, Holt left time for closing remarks and a short back-and-forth between the candidates. Holt asked Trump why he said Clinton didn’t have “a presidential look” at a campaign rally earlier in the campaign.
“She doesn’t have the look, she doesn’t have the stamina,” Trump said. “To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.”
Clinton didn’t hold back in her response.
“As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents and opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” Clinton told the crowd.
Clinton reminded the crowd of Trump’s past comments on women’s looks, name calling, and calling pregnancy “an inconvenience to employers.”
“I never said that,” Trump repeated over Clinton’s barrage of attacks.
Both candidates said they would support the outcome of the election, regardless of who wins.