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