By Liz Wiley, Staff Writer
On September 26 at 8 p.m. CST, like many people in America, I tuned in to watch the first Presidential debate for the 2016 election on my local news channel. The following are some highlights from the debate and my response to the answers from the candidates.
The candidates walked on stage after riveting camera footage of the audience chattering for a full 15 minutes. They each began by giving a comprehensive list of why Americans should elect them president in the upcoming election.
The Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave a nice speech about “investing in Americans” and detailed her plans on how to change America’s future into a bright one. She included taxing the wealthy, providing paid leave for employees, building up America’s small businesses, expanding renewable energy efforts, and creating manufacturing jobs as a way to boost the economy in her speech. Then, like the clang of a hammer on an anvil, came Donald Trump.
Trump did not waste any time with subtleties, but then again, what did we expect? He began his persuasive monologue by blaming China and Mexico for stealing American jobs. His comprehensive plan for changing America can be summarized as starting to tax companies that outsource to other countries and deporting of illegal immigrants that are “stealing” American jobs.
One of the highlights of the debate was Trump’s criticism of Clinton’s participation in the NAFTA trade agreement. Clinton responded to this criticism by stating that the agreement was successful in some ways, but not necessarily in the ways in which it was intended to be. Clinton followed up by citing her 26 years of experience in politics, which she claimed has enabled her to know what best fits American needs.
Trump interrupted Clinton (several times, actually), shouting, “You have no plan!” Clinton responded to this accusation by suggesting that Trump pick up a copy of her bestselling book which illustrates her plan for America. She also detailed her plan for America in the first part of the debate, but who was really listening to that anyway?
Another staple of the debate was Trump’s charge that Clinton will “over-regulate” businesses and “increase red tape” that will harm the economy. Clinton denied that this was part of her plan and claimed the opposite. She also stated that “the wealthy need to pay their dues.” Trump voiced his disapproval of this plan, which raises the question of whether or not there is a conflict of interest there, since Trump himself is extremely wealthy.
The moderator, Lester Holt, asked Trump specifically why he had not released his tax returns like every presidential candidates (except for Gerald Ford) have done for the past 40 years. Trump immediately became defensive and deflected the question by making an ultimatum, “I’ll release my tax returns when former Secretary Clinton releases her emails.”Clinton admitted that using a private email was a mistake, and that she would change that choice if she could.
Holt asked Trump about his tax returns once more. Trump then claimed he couldn’t release his forms because he was under a “routine audit” and promised to release them after the audit was finished. Holt and Clinton both clarified that it is possible to publicly release tax returns while under audit.
To this, Clinton suggested that Trump might have a reason to hide his tax returns. She listed several possible reasons why he might do so, and then stated that Americans “had the right to know” the financial status of their future leader. Trump limply responded by complaining that “other people” he knows “do not get audited” and vaguely suggested harassment by the IRS. He also alluded to not paying federal income taxes, which he views as a “smart” move.
When the debate eventually moved onto the topic of racial divide in America, Clinton admitted there was a problem. She said that the answer was to foster trust between communities and law enforcement, to provide police with better training, and to stop a “plague of gun violence” by implementing stricter gun safety laws. She also gave her support for community policing.
Trump also admitted that there was a racial divide, but endorsed “stop and frisk” as a method for fixing these issues. Holt immediately clarified that “stop and frisk” was deemed unconstitutional, which Trump denied.
These were only some of the major high points of the debate, but themes could be drawn from each of the candidates’ answers. Clinton used words like “investing,” “plan,” “we,” and “I” frequently. Trump used words like “they,” “enemy,” “important,” and “endorsed” throughout his arguments.
Some common reactions to the debate from the general public have been that Clinton was not as aggressive as she should have been, that Lester Holt did not mediate as well as he should have, and that Trump “bullied” his way through the topics of debate. A CNN poll found that 62 percent of the public thought that Clinton had won the debate, leaving only 27 percent siding with Trump, and 11 percent unsure.
Regardless of your political preferences, please watch a rerun of the debate and draw your own conclusions. There are a couple more presidential debates scheduled, so make sure to tune in for those. Most importantly, please go out to vote on November 8 for the next president of the United States.