Trump holds back but gets Hillary backpedaling in round 1
The stage was set at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, where both candidates came out of their corners swinging, with Clinton taking jabs at Trump, who shot back while seeming to hold back a bit in the round-one bout.
Even though Clinton spent the week preparing at home for the first epic battle while Trump toured inner-city communities across the nation, the Republican presidential nominee held his own against the long-term Democratic politician.
Trade was one of the key issues that were touched on Monday night, when Trump brought up NAFTA – the major trade deal of the 1990s signed by the then first lady’s husband, Bill Clinton, while in office.
“[NAFTA was] the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere,” Trump impressed to Clinton, according to FOX News, reminding her of the support she gave to the agreement touted by her husband.
Trump went on to expose Clinton’s hypocrisy on the controversial trade deal, calling into question her history on trade policies, contending that his rival would approve the arrangement with Asian countries – even though she opposes it as a presidential candidate.
“You were totally in favor of it, then you heard what I was saying – how bad it is – and you said, ‘Well, I can’t win that debate,’ but you know that if you did win, you would approve that,” Trump insisted to his competitor, reports Newsmax.
Not having a rebuttal to disprove Trump’s charge, Clinton simply dismissed his contention as being fanciful.
“Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts,” the 68-year-old Democrat retorted.
Trump would not let up when it came to Clinton’s track record on trade, saying she has failed to set things right regarding deals with other nations for decades as a politician.
“Secretary Clinton and others … should have been doing this for years – not right now,” Trump told the spectators on campus.
He impressed the fact that his aim is to keep jobs and businesses in the United States by warning them of impending taxes if they set up their operations outside the country, and then insisted that Clinton would stick to the same ineffective and job-crushing trade policies that she’s allowed for decades on end.
“You’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Trump told Clinton. “I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs.”
Of taxes and emails
Clinton initiated one exchange by bringing up the billionaire’s tax returns, venturing several guesses on why he has not yet publicly disclosed his forms – before calling him to release his tax records.
“There’s something he’s hiding,” Clinton suggested to the New York crowd.
Not backing down, Trump indicated that he is hiding nothing and merely following the standard protocol of not releasing his tax returns during an audit. He proceeded to venture a challenge of his own, telling the crowd that he would go against the advice of his attorneys and release his taxes if Clinton releases the 33,000 emails she deleted.
“As soon as she releases them, I will release my tax returns,” Trump shot back, evoking laughs from the audience.
Despite the open opportunity, Trump did not follow up by bringing up the scandal regarding Clinton’s email server.
Another controversy that was resurrected during the debate was President Barack Obama’s “birther” issue, which Trump recently attempted to put behind him after initially charging that the standing president was born in Kenya years ago – an assertion, if proven true, would have disqualified him from assuming the White House.
Despite the fact that Clinton questioned Obama’s birthplace while competing with him for the Democratic ticket years back, she accused Trump of peddling a “racist lie” by questioning his claimed birth in Hawaii.
In reply to the former secretary of state’s condemning words, Trump pointed out that her aides played a major role in pushing the birther issue – calling his rival out for pretending to have such fond regards for the president, while pointing out her vicious attacks on him when challenging him for president years ago.
“When you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work,” Trump told Clinton.
When the debate swung around to the topic of terrorism, Trump was well prepared to point out Clinton’s flaws, mocking her for what he called a foolish choice to publicly post her tactics for fighting terror on her website – thus giving the Islamic militant enemies a heads-up.
The 70-year-old real estate tycoon also blamed the aspiring first female U.S. president for letting the Islamic State (ISIS) Islamic terrorist group incubate and fester under her watch while serving under the Obama administration’s first term.
“You were secretary of state when [ISIS] was a little infant,” Trump pointed out to Clinton. “Now it’s in over 30 countries, and you’re gonna stop them? I don’t think so.”
Trump alluded to the “Arab Spring,” when as America’s chief diplomat, Clinton stood by Obama to encourage the ousting of then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – the longstanding ally of America – to make way for the militant Muslim Brotherhood, which wreaked more havoc on the nation.
However, the GOP nominee did not choose to criticize Clinton for standing behind Obama’s decision to attack the Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi – a move that made way for Muslim terrorists to take over major regions of the North African nation. Nor did Trump seek to touch on her Benghazi scandal, where she and the Obama administration wrongly blamed the jihadist attack that killed four Americans on a spontaneous YouTube video – after ignoring the many warning signs given before the carnage took place.
Tough enough for the job?
As the debate drew toward a close, Trump addressed Clinton’s seemingly incessant claim that he did not have the temperament to be president.
“I have a winning temperament,” Trump asserted. “I know how to win.”
He then turned the tables on Clinton by alluding to a highly criticized video-conference address she gave last week to a labor union. “You were totally out of control,” Trump insisted.
Back on her feet, the Democratic White House hopeful insinuated that Trump could not be trusted as commander-in-chief. “A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes,” she quipped.
Clinton’s brief service and alleged lack of due diligence as secretary of state was then brought up by Trump to charge her with not being able to stand up for America for the long haul while presiding from the Oval Office.
“[She] doesn’t have the stamina [to be president],” Trump asserted.
Clinton tried to tout her experience to counter Trump’s charge.
“As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease fire, release of dissidents … or even spends 11 hours testifying before a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” she retorted.
More to come …
With just six weeks until this year’s general election in November, both Clinton and Trump are racing to gain the support of Americans who have not yet decided on who they would trust as the next U.S. president.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released yesterday indicates that approximately half of likely voters across America are relying on the debates before making their final decision at the ballot box. Another poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos released Sunday shows that Clinton’s once double-digit lead over Trump has diminished to just four percentage points.
Clinton and Trump were the only presidential candidates invited to the first presidential debate, as the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein did not receive at least 15 percent of the vote in national polls to qualify for the event.
The second presidential debate is slated for October 9. It will be hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Before that, however, the vice-presidential candidates will square off at Longwood University (Farmville, Virginia) on October 4.
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