Clin­ton, Trump bat­tle fiercely over taxes, race, ter­ror dur­ing first de­bate

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Pace and Jill Colvin

HEMP­STEAD, N.Y. >> In a com­bat­ive open­ing de­bate, Hil­lary Clin­ton em­phat­i­cally de­nounced Don­ald Trump Mon­day night for keep­ing his per­sonal tax re­turns and busi­ness deal­ings se­cret from vot­ers and ped­dling a “racist lie” about Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Busi­ness­man Trump re­peat­edly cast Clin­ton as a “typ­i­cal politi­cian” as he sought to cap­i­tal­ize on Amer­i­cans’ frus­tra­tion with Wash­ing­ton.

Locked in an ex­ceed­ingly close White House race, the pres­i­den­tial ri­vals tan­gled for 90 min­utes over their vastly dif­fer­ent vi­sions for the na­tion’s fu­ture. Clin­ton called for low­er­ing taxes for the mid­dle class, while Trump fo­cused more on rene­go­ti­at­ing trade deals that he said have caused com­pa­nies to move jobs out of the U.S. The Repub­li­can backed the con­tro­ver­sial “stop-and­frisk polic­ing” tac­tic as a way to bring down crime, while the Demo­crat said the pol­icy was un­con­sti­tu­tional and in­ef­fec­tive.

The de­bate was heated from the start, with Trump fre­quently try­ing to in­ter­rupt Clin­ton and speak­ing over her an­swers. Clin­ton was more mea­sured and re­strained, but also nee­dled the some­times-thin­skinned Trump over his busi­ness record and wealth.

“There’s some­thing he’s hid­ing,” she de­clared, scoff­ing at his re­peated con­tention that he won’t re­lease his tax re­turns be­cause he is be­ing au­dited.

Trump ag­gres­sively tried to turn the trans­parency ques­tions around on Clin­ton, who has strug­gled to over­come vot­ers’ con­cerns about her hon­estly and trust­wor­thi­ness. He said he would re­lease his tax in­for­ma­tion when she pro­duces more than 30,000 emails that were deleted from the per­sonal in­ter­net server she used as sec­re­tary of state.

Tax ex­perts have said there is no rea­son the busi­ness­man can­not make his records pub­lic dur­ing an au­dit.

Clin­ton was con­trite in ad­dress­ing her con­tro­ver­sial email use, say­ing sim­ply that it was a “mis­take”. She no­tably did not fall back on many of the ex­cuses she has of­ten used for fail­ing to use a gov­ern­ment email dur­ing her four years as sec­re­tary of state.

“If I had to do it over again, I would ob­vi­ously do it dif­fer­ently,” she said.

The tele­vised face-off was the most an­tic­i­pated mo­ment in an elec­tion cam­paign that has been both his­toric and un­pre­dictable. Both sides ex­pected a record-set­ting au­di­ence for the show­down at Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in sub­ur­ban New York, re­flect­ing the in­tense na­tional in­ter­est in the race to be­come Amer­ica’s 45th pres­i­dent.

The can­di­dates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-pay­ing jobs back to the United States.

Clin­ton said her Repub­li­can ri­val was pro­mot­ing a “Trumped-up” ver­sion of trickle-down eco­nomics — a phi­los­o­phy fo­cused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for in­creas­ing the fed­eral min­i­mum wage, spend­ing more on in­fra­struc­ture projects and guar­an­tee­ing equal pay for women.

Trump panned poli­cies that he said have led to Amer­i­can jobs be­ing moved over­seas, in part be­cause of in­ter­na­tional trade agree­ments that Clin­ton has sup­ported. He pushed Clin­ton ag­gres­sively on her past sup­port for the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship trade pact while she was serv­ing in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. She’s since said she op­poses the sweep­ing deal in its fi­nal form.

“You called it the gold stan­dard of trade deals,” Trump said. “If you did win, you would ap­prove that.”

Dis­put­ing his ver­sion of events, Clin­ton said, “I know you live in your re­al­ity.”

Trump strug­gled to an­swer re­peated ques­tions about why he only re­cently ac­knowl­edged that Barack Obama was born in the United States. For years, Trump has been the chief pro­moter of ques­tions falsely sug­gest­ing the pres­i­dent was born out­side of Amer­ica.

“He has re­ally started his po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity on this racist lie,” Clin­ton charged.

Clin­ton aides spent the days lead­ing up to the de­bate ap­peal­ing for the me­dia and vot­ers to hold Trump to a higher stan­dard than they be­lieve he has faced for much of the cam­paign. Their con­cern was that if the some­times-bom­bas­tic Trump man­aged to keep his cool on­stage, he’d be re­warded — even if he failed to flesh out pol­icy specifics or didn’t tell the truth about his record and past state­ments.

Trump’s cam­paign has said the Clin­ton camp’s con­cerns re­flected wor­ries about the her de­bat­ing skills.

The cen­ter­piece of Trump’s cam­paign has been a push for re­stric­tive im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures, in­clud­ing a phys­i­cal wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der and an early pro­posal to tem­po­rar­ily bar for­eign Mus­lims from com­ing to the U.S. But he’s been less de­tailed about other ideas, in­clud­ing his plan for stamp­ing out the Is­lamic State group in the Mid­dle East.

Clin­ton, a for­mer sen­a­tor and sec­re­tary of state, is bank­ing on vot­ers see­ing her as a steady hand who can build on the record of Pres­i­dent Obama, whose pop­u­lar­ity is ris­ing as he winds down his sec­ond term in of­fice. She’s called for ex­pand­ing Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders if Congress won’t pass leg­is­la­tion to over­haul the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem and for broader gun con­trol mea­sures. Over­seas, she’s called for a no-fly zone in Syria but has vowed to keep the mil­i­tary out of a large-scale ground war to de­feat the Is­lamic State group.

For Clin­ton, vic­tory in Novem­ber largely hinges on ral­ly­ing the same young and di­verse coali­tion that elected Obama but has yet to fully em­brace her.

Trump has tapped into deep anx­i­eties among some Amer­i­cans, par­tic­u­larly white, work­ing-class vot­ers who feel left be­hind in a chang­ing econ­omy and di­ver­si­fy­ing na­tion. While the real es­tate mogul lacks the ex­pe­ri­ence Amer­i­cans have tra­di­tion­ally sought in a com­man­der in chief, he’s bank­ing on frus­tra­tion with ca­reer politi­cians and dis­dain for Clin­ton to push him over the top on Elec­tion Day.


Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial de­bate with Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton at Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hemp­stead, N.Y., on Mon­day.


Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks to Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial de­bate at Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hemp­stead, N.Y., on Mon­day.

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