On September 26th, 2016 at 9:00 PM, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, and Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, held the first Presidential debate of the 2016 election. Moderated by Lester Holt, the debate consisted of the candidates spending 15 minutes on each of the six topics. After the question presented was answered by each candidate, the remaining discussion time was led by the two candidates themselves. Although instructed to be silent, the audience erupted in cheers several times for each candidate.
The first question asked to each of the candidates was what made them the better candidate to create the kinds of jobs that would allow for more money in the pockets of American workers. Hillary Clinton answered first. Clinton discussed how America needs to invest in clean energy, small business, and manufacturing. “We also have to make the economy fairer,” said Clinton. Clinton’s plan starts with raising minimum wage and guaranteeing equal pay for women. Additionally Clinton wants a fairer economy, and to achieve a fair economy, Clinton wants to have paid family leave, earned sick days, and debt-free college. Each of those services will be paid for by closing corporate loopholes and raising taxes on the wealthy.
After Clinton spoke, it was Donald Trump’s turn. Donald started by saying, “Our jobs are fleeing the country. They’re going to Mexico, they’re going to many other countries. You look at what China is doing for the country in terms of making our product, they’re devaluing their currency and there’s nobody in our government to fight them.” He added that China is using manufacturing products to devalue their currency, but no one in the American government is stopping them. Trump said that many American companies, like Ford, are taking manufacturing jobs out of America and into foreign countries; Trump wants to stop American jobs leaving the country. To combat this issue Trump said under his plan, taxes will be reduced by 20% for businesses and companies. Quickly the candidates dove into issues about trade with back and forth debates about stances on NAFTA. As tensions escalated, Clinton said she knew the challenges of trade deals and how to create American jobs. In response, Trump said she did not do any of that in her 26-30 years serving as a government official. Back and forth comments between Clinton and Trump continued, even through the attempted interference of the moderator. The candidates even attempted to start discussing their plans to defeat the terrorist group ISIS, but before the discussion could develop, the moderator interfered to introduce the next question.
Each candidate was asked to defend their positions on tax increases or tax cuts on the wealthy. Trump began to defend his position on tax cuts. He explained that the wealthiest Americans need tax cuts because lower taxes will cause companies to come back into the United States for jobs. Currently high taxes and “bureaucratic red tape” prevents them from bringing jobs back into the United States. Trump explained, “So what they’re [the wealthiest Americans] doing is they’re leaving our country and they’re, believe it or not, leaving because taxes are too high and because some of them have lots of money outside of our country.” According to Trump if the President would approve a law, then 5 trillion dollars could be brought into the country. Trump blamed past politicians, like Clinton, for these problems. In response, Clinton joked that she would be blamed for everything by the end of the debate. Clinton dubbed Trump’s economic tax plan as “Trumped up, trickle-down” economics. That means that his plan benefits the wealthy more than the middle class. “Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn’t worked and a lot of really smart, wealthy people know that,” said Clinton. She plans to invest and build the middle class, make college debt free, and allow people to refinance their college debt. Basically, Trump’s platform contains a plan to cut taxes, whereas Hillary’s platform contains a tax increase, specifically on wealthier Americans.
Before delving into another issue, the candidates brought up a scandal for the other. Trump addressed Clinton’s 33,000 emails while Clinton addressed Trump’s tax returns. According to Donald Trump, he will be releasing his tax returns when his IRS audit is complete. Clinton accused Trump of avoiding to pay his federal taxes saying, “Or maybe he does not want the American people to know that he has paid nothing in federal taxes because the only years that anybody has ever seen [was] where he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license. And they showed he did not pay any federal income tax.”
In response to Clinton, Trump said when she releases her 33,000 deleted emails, he will release his tax returns. When asked to address her emails, Clinton said using a private server was a mistake. “If I had to do it over again I would obviously do it differently,” said Clinton. During her Congressional hearing, Clinton had staff members plead the fifth amendment when asked about the server. Trump responded back to Clinton by saying, “When you have your staff taking the Fifth Amendment, […] so they are not prosecuted, when you have the man that set up the illegal server taking the fifth, I think it’s disgraceful.”
A social issue addressed during the debate was the racial tensions in America. Both candidates were asked how they would bridge the divide. Clinton focused on reform of the criminal justice system. She said that trust must be restored between communities and the police through establishing respect between the two groups and better training. Additionally Clinton said, “We have to tackle the plague of gun violence which is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we are seeing today.” Trump discussed crime rates in inner cities like Chicago. He agreed with Clinton that police-community relationships need to be bettered and suggested implementing stop-and-frisk policies, even though they were deemed unconstitutional. Later, Clinton discussed getting rid of private prisons, fixing minimum sentencing, and creating more preventive programs to keep minority children out of trouble or danger.
Isis and defense in the Middle East was a large topic of discussion for the candidates. Hillary Clinton says that Isis needs to be fought online and assisting the Iraqi army on the ground. She especially emphasized disrupting Isis online propaganda. Donald Trump discussed making NATO obsolete because [in Trump’s judgment] countries are not defending equally, like the treaty says.
At the end of the debate, each candidate gave closing remarks. Both Trump and Clinton said they would support the outcome of the election. For a full transcript of the debate, click the link below: