De­bate brings bar­rage of at­tacks

Clin­ton, Trump tan­gle over trade, taxes — and tax re­turns, emails — in heated ex­changes Nom­i­nees dis­play their vastly dif­fer­ent styles, ap­proaches

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ON THE ECON­OMY By Mark Z. Barabak, Evan Halper and Michael Fin­negan

Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton said her op­po­nent “re­ally be­lieves the more you help wealthy peo­ple, the bet­ter off they will be,” Clin­ton said. “I don’t buy it.”

HEMP­STEAD, N.Y. — Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump launched into a spir­ited brawl Mon­day night as they met on­stage for the first time, each jock­ey­ing for a break­out mo­ment in their tight­en­ing race dur­ing a highly an­tic­i­pated de­bate that of­ten veered into sharply per­sonal at­tacks.

The can­di­dates re­peat­edly shouted over each other as they ar­gued about their his­to­ries, their plans and the com­ments each of them have made dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race.

Clin­ton pointed to Trump call­ing cli­mate change a hoax, di­min­ished his ac­com­plish­ments in busi­ness and at­tacked his cham­pi­oning of a tax sys­tem as cus­tom-made to help wealthy busi­ness own­ers like him­self. She called it

“Trumped-up trickle-down eco­nomics.”

Her ef­forts to nee­dle Trump were suc­cess­ful in draw­ing an an­gry re­sponse from the GOP nom­i­nee, but he also re­peat­edly painted her as a bu­reau­crat who led the coun­try into dis­as­trous trade deals, failed to stop China and Mex­ico from steal­ing Amer­i­can jobs and shifted her agenda to suit her am­bi­tions.

Not even a half-hour into the de­bate, Clin­ton was urg­ing vot­ers to go to her web­site for fact checks, warn­ing that Trump was mis­lead­ing them as he talked over her to ac­cuse Clin­ton of decades of fail­ure in lead­er­ship.

“I have a feel­ing by the end of this de­bate I am go­ing to be blamed for ev­ery­thing that ever hap­pened,” Clin­ton said. “Why not?” Trump re­sponded. “Join the de­bate by say­ing more crazy things,” Clin­ton shot back.

The de­bate of­fered vot­ers a rare mo­ment of fo­cus and clar­ity as the vastly dif­fer­ent styles and ap­proaches of the two nom­i­nees clashed at the event.

“He re­ally be­lieves the more you help wealthy peo­ple, the bet­ter off they will be,” Clin­ton said. “I don’t buy it.”

Trump re­sponded to Clin­ton’s charges about his eco­nomic plans with un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally sharp pol­icy ar­gu­ments. He pep­pered his blunt talk about for­eign gov­ern­ments tak­ing ad­van­tage of the U.S. with de­tails about value-added taxes and pol­icy at the Fed­eral Re­serve.

But he also did not shy away from some

De­bate sched­ule

The vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates will de­bate Tues­day, Oct. 4, at Long­wood Univer­sity in Far­mville, Va.

The sec­ond pres­i­den­tial de­bate is Oct. 9 at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis.

The fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate is Oct. 19 at the Univer­sity of Nevada, Las Ve­gas. of his more col­or­ful lines and through­out his his­tory in busi­ness.

When Clin­ton ac­cused Trump of be­ing “one of the peo­ple who rooted for the hous­ing cri­sis” be­cause it would help his busi­ness, Trump replied, “That’s called busi­ness.”

When Clin­ton ac­cused Trump of call­ing cli­mate change a hoax, Trump ob­jected that she was mis­char­ac­ter­iz­ing his past re­marks, but he also launched into a blis­ter­ing cri­tique of Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion en­ergy pol­icy. He cited the bank­ruptcy of so­lar com­pany Solyn­dra, which was heav­ily sub­si­dized by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Trump de­flected per­sis­tent ques­tions about whether he would re­lease his tax re­turns by claim­ing he was un­der au­dit, some­thing he has re­peat­edly said pre­vented him from dis­clo­sure. Lester Holt, the mod­er­a­tor, pointed out that there was no pro­hi­bi­tion on Trump re­leas­ing his tax re­turns dur­ing an au­dit.

Trump fi­nally said he would re­lease them, over the ad­vice of his at­tor­neys to keep them pri­vate, if Clin­ton would re­lease 33,000 emails that were deleted from the pri­vate server she used when she was sec­re­tary of state.

Clin­ton then went on the of­fen­sive, ac­cus­ing Trump of hav­ing some­thing to hide and sug­gest­ing a num­ber of pos­si­bil­i­ties: He is not as wealthy as he says; he is not as char­i­ta­ble as he says; he has fi­nan­cial con­flicts of in­ter­est he does not want to dis­close; or he is not pay­ing any in­come taxes.

“That makes me smart,” Trump said, in­ter­rupt­ing Clin­ton.

Trump’s busi­ness record dom­i­nated a large por­tion of the de­bate, with Clin­ton ea­ger to en­gage.

Trump re­counted his suc­cess, in­clud­ing what he said was hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in in­come last year, “not to be brag­gado­cios,” he said.

Clin­ton pointed to his many busi­ness bank­rupt­cies and to sto­ries that he had stiffed con­trac­tors.

“I’m cer­tainly re­lieved that my late fa­ther never did busi­ness with you,” Clin­ton said.

Trump said he was sim­ply tak­ing ad­van­tage of the laws and mak­ing sure he did not pay for sub­stan­dard work.

“It’s all words. Its all sound bites,” he said, try­ing to build his case that Clin­ton was just an­other politi­cian. “I built an un­be­liev­able com­pany.”

It was un­clear whether Trump’s per­for­mance put to rest the con­cerns vot­ers have about how his un­fil­tered and in­flam­ma­tory state­ments and shal­low pol­icy plat­form would play in the Oval Of­fice.

This first de­bate of the fall gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign was pre­ceded with a Su­per Bowl-level of hype and the au­di­ence for the 90-minute ses­sion was ex­pected to ap­proach that of the na­tion’s big­gest an­nual tele­vi­sion gath­er­ing, with per­haps as many as 100 mil­lion view­ers tun­ing in.

His­tory shows that de­bates tend to re­in­force pre-ex­ist­ing per­cep­tions rather than move a mass of vot­ers or cause a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber to change their minds and switch sup­port.

Much of the pre-de­bate fo­cus fell on the mod­er­a­tor, NBC’s Lester Holt, and whether he would fact-check the can­di­dates or leave the two to point out each other’s false­hoods or hy­per­bole. Holt gen­er­ally avoided do­ing the kind of real-time fact checks that some of the more ag­gres­sive mod­er­a­tors at­tempted dur­ing pri­mary de­bates. Of­ten as he moved to in­ter­ject, he was drowned out by the can­di­dates ar­gu­ing.

Clin­ton en­tered the de­bate in the stronger po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion, hold­ing a con­sis­tent lead in most na­tional sur­veys and, more sig­nif­i­cant, an ad­van­tage in the route to 270 elec­toral col­lege votes.

The two ma­jor in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates, Lib­er­tar­ian Gary John­son and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, were ex­cluded from the de­bate stage, hav­ing failed to meet the level of sup­port in polls that was set by the de­bate or­ga­niz­ers as a thresh­old to par­tic­i­pate.

PA­TRICK SE­MAN­SKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump painted Clin­ton as a bu­reau­crat who led the coun­try into dis­as­trous trade deals and failed to stop China and Mex­ico from steal­ing Amer­i­can jobs.

JULIO CORTEZ/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

EVAN VUCCI/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump, cen­ter, shakes hands with mod­er­a­tor Lester Holt as Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton walks to her lectern.

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