Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton faced off in the very first 2016 Presidential Debate Monday, Sept. 26. Plattsburgh State students tuned in to watch the debate, which was the most-watched debate in United States history, according to CNN.
The debate, hosted by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, focused on three of the biggest issues currently facing the American people.
These issues were broken up into three topics, with each segment filled with questions for each nominee, lasting approximately 15 minutes each.
“I felt Lester Holt was tougher on Trump than Clinton, Trump was getting tougher questions than Hillary was.” PSUC criminal justice student Brian Surman said. “I’m fine with giving candidates tough questions, but he should have been equal in for both of them.”
The first issue focused on “achieving prosperity” for the American people through better trade deals and business and job growth.
According to Holt, America has seen record job growth over the last six years, but pay inequality is still prevalent, as nearly one-half of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Clinton was awarded the floor first. She was asked how, as president, she would do a better job at creating economic prosperity.
She said she plans to build an economy that “works for everyone, not just those at the top.”
She also said she planned on increasing jobs and services in fields such as infrastructure, energy and production. Clinton also plans to increase federal minimum wage for workers and provide women with equal pay for equal work.
Plattsburgh State Political Science Chair Harvey Schantz said Clinton’s debate strategy worked in her favor, as she set up “traps” for Trump, and he spent “valuable time defending himself.”
Trump soon had the floor to answer how he could potentially provide economic prosperity as president.
He said American jobs were being lost to places like Mexico and China, making his main goal to keep jobs in the country. Trump said he would work to change the way business trades are handled in America, reforming importing and exporting taxes.
One major difference between the two nominees were their stances on taxing the wealthy. Clinton hopes to increase taxes for the top percenters, while Trump looks to make cuts. Clinton said in the debate that he could be doing this for self-serving reasons.
Clinton set one of her Trump traps by demanding he release his tax returns to the public, as most candidates have done throughout history.
“I will release my tax returns, against my lawyer’s wishes, when she (Clinton) releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted,” Trump said.
Schantz said Clinton’s preparation for the email issue was well done, as she rehearsed a brief explanation.
She had a well-rehearsed line that she made a mistake and she wouldn’t do it again and she let it go at that point,” Schantz said. “Earlier in the campaign, she had a longer answer and that didn’t play well.”
The debate continued with numerous attacks on character on both sides, with Trump asking Clinton why she has not done anything in her 30 years of government work to fix the economy, and Clinton claiming Trump was “not as rich as he says he is.”
Shortly after, the debate moved on to discussing “America’s Direction.” The main topics were race relations and criminal justice reform.
Clinton said, if elected, she would work to restore trust between communities and their police officers. She also said the country needed new and reformed police training and techniques.
She also said she was happy to see the end of federal-level private prisons, as profit should not motivate the institutions to fill jail cells.
Trump, on the other hand, said America needed “law and order” to help change social injustice.
“The African American community has been let down by our politicians,” Trump said.
He showed his support for the “stop and frisk” effort in New York, although it was ruled unconstitutional, as it promoted racial profiling.
Both parties agreed that gun-violence was a large issue in America, but had opposing views on how to end it.
Trump was more open to allowing Americans their right to carry, while Clinton was more conservative. They both agreed that limitations needed to be put in place to decide who could, and who could not, purchase weapons.
“If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to own a gun” Trump said of those on the “No Fly List” being allowed to purchase firearms.
Lastly, the candidates discussed “Securing America.” One main issue in the country, according to Holt, was cyber-attacks both domestic and foreign.
Clinton agreed, noting “cyberwars” would be a big issue facing the next president. She claimed Russia used these attacks often, and dug at Trump for his friendship with Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin.
Trump took to the defense, stating that cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee showed that former presidential contender Bernie Sanders was “being taken advantage of” by the party, although he could not point blame to who initiated the attacks.
Holt also asked candidates how ISIS inspired “homegrown attacks” of terrorism could be prevented in America, such as attacks in San Bernardino, CA and Orlando.
Trump said America should have taken oil from the Middle East during the Iraq war, as oil is ISIS’s “primary source of income” and now they have “oil all over the place.” He claimed if some troops were left in Iraq, and without the oil, ISIS would never had been formed.
Trump also criticized the “Iran Deal” supported by Clinton as Secretary of State.
“This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history. The deal with Iran with lead to nuclear problems,” he said.
Clinton took the floor to focus on protecting the American people.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to vacuum up intelligence from Europe, from the Middle East,” she said. “That means we need to work more closely with our allies.”
Clinton also took time to reassure allies of the importance of treaties.
“I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them. It is essential that America’s word be ‘good’.”
Trump rebuked by saying Clinton did not have the “stamina” to uphold presidential duties and obligations.
“I agree, she’s got experience but it’s bad experience,” Trump said. “And this country can’t afford to have another four years to have that kind of experience.”
The final question asked the nominees if they would accept the outcome of the election, despite the outcome.
“I support our democracy. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, Clinton said. “But I certainly will support the outcome of this election.”
According to CNN polls, Clinton took the win in this debate with 62 percent of viewers support, while Trump earned 27 percent.
“I think Trump actually won,” Surman said. “I saw a lot of polls afterwards and people favored him even though experts say Hillary won only because Hillary is a politician unlike Trump.”
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