Clin­ton, Trump clash in fiery first de­bate

> Can­di­dates trade in­sults, spar over tem­per­a­ment

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

WASHINGTON: Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump traded in­sults and sparred over tem­per­a­ment, stamina and judg­ment yes­ter­day, in a fiery US pres­i­den­tial de­bate that of­ten saw the Repub­li­can on the back foot.

With six weeks un­til elec­tion day and polls show­ing a vir­tual dead heat, Clin­ton re­peat­edly ques­tioned her ri­val’s fit­ness to serve in the Oval Of­fice.

Be­fore an an­tic­i­pated tele­vi­sion au­di­ence of up to 100 mil­lion, Clin­ton painted the celebrity real es­tate mogul as fa­tally out of touch and will­ing to say “crazy things” to get elected.

“You live in your own re­al­ity” said the 68-year-old Demo­crat, ac­cus­ing Trump of launch­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer on the “racist lie” that Barack Obama is not Amer­i­can.

As Clin­ton pro­jected steady ex­pe­ri­ence, Trump played the pop­ulist bruiser, pitch­ing to frus­trated blue-col­lar vot­ers fed up with politi­cians.

“Let me tell you, Hil­lary has ex­pe­ri­ence. But it’s bad, bad ex­pe­ri­ence,” quipped the bil­lion­aire, ac­cus­ing the for­mer sec­re­tary of state, first lady and US sen­a­tor of be­ing a “typ­i­cal politi­cian. All talk, no ac­tion. Sounds good, doesn’t work”.

The 70-year-old Trump has faced tough ques­tions about his tem­per­a­ment dur­ing a deeply po­lar­is­ing 15-month cam­paign that has brought rightwing pop­ulism to the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal main­stream.

He be­gan the keenly awaited de­bate at New York’s Hof­s­tra Univer­sity with a re­strained tone.

But as the tem­per­a­ture rose, he brought out the ver­bal brick­bats, re­peat­edly in­ter­rupt­ing Clin­ton and even ques­tion­ing her stamina af­ter a bout of pneu­mo­nia.

“Well, as soon as he trav­els to 112 coun­tries and ne­go­ti­ates a peace deal, a cease­fire, a re­lease of dis­si­dents ... or even spends 11 hours tes­ti­fy­ing in front of a con­gres­sional com­mit­tee, he can talk to me about stamina,” Clin­ton shot back.

Trump ap­peared to get in­creas­ingly ir­ri­tated and riled, at one point rolling his eyes and emit­ting a frus­trated “ugh”.

In a snap CNN poll of 521 vot­ers, 62% judged that Clin­ton had won the de­bate against 27% for Trump.

John Hu­dak, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, said that “hands down, Clin­ton looked bet­ter than Trump”.

“You don’t have to think that her per­for­mance was per­fect, but the unique part of a pres­i­den­tial de­bate is that you don’t have to ex­cel, you just have to do bet­ter than the only other per­son on stage.”

St­ef­fen Sch­midt, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Iowa State Univer­sity, also praised Clin­ton’s per­for­mance.

How­ever, he said, “Trump more than held his own with an in­for­mal and of­ten un­or­gan­ised ‘speech salad’ where he mixed things in odd ways but of­ten with hu­mour, and clev­erly”. – AFP

Trump shakes hands with Clin­ton at the con­clu­sion of their first pres­i­den­tial de­bate at Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hempstead, New York yes­ter­day.

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