Recap of the first presidential debate


Frances Mackinnon

The two candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties faced off in the first of three presidential debates on Sept. 26, 2016.

The stage lights rise as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump strut to center stage toward Lester Holt to shake hands. Taking his position at his podium, Lester Holt, the moderator of the night, explains the format of the debate.

The first segment of the debate was devoted to achieving prosperity where the candidates focused on topics of jobs, taxes, trade and the state of our economy.

Donald Trump took a tough stance on American jobs gushing out of the country. “Our jobs are fleeing the country. We have to stop our companies from leaving our country,” Trump said. Clinton took more of an “I’m with you” approach: “Build an economy that works for everyone, I want to invest in you,” Clinton said.

On taxes, Clinton attacked Trump for not releasing his tax returns while Trump blamed the delay on an ongoing audit with the IRS, “I will release my tax returns when [Hillary Clinton] releases her emails,” Trump retorted to the accusations.

On the economy, Clinton took the attack again claiming Trump will bring “the return of trickle down economics.” Trump responded by stating, “[It’s] About time our country had someone who knew something about money.”

Trump took a strong position on trade, heckling Clinton on her flip-flopping regarding trade deals like the North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Claiming Clinton called NAFTA a “gold standard” of trade.

The second segment covered was America’s Direction, centering on the racial divides in our country.

When asked about how they would handle the current racial tensions, Clinton took an approach around reforming the criminal justice system by reforming mandatory minimum sentences and increasing mental health training with police officers to bridge the gap between the community and the law enforcement.

“We’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system,” Clinton said.

Trump took a much more “law and order” approach, praising the stop and frisk campaign in New York City to take guns out of the inner cities, “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell,” Trump said on the state of inner city violence. Trump also answered questions on the controversy he spearheaded on the birthplace of President Obama,  “I got him[Obama] to produce the birth certificate,” Trump said when asked about the birther scandal.

The final segment of the debate centered on Securing America. The candidates covered the topics of cyber security, the war in Iraq, nuclear weapons and the stamina of a president.

On cyber security, Clinton emphasized the importance of cyber security in the twenty-first century. “Cyber security and cyber warfare will be a large issue with the next president,” Clinton said.

Trump blamed President Obama for dropping the ball on controlling the internet. “Under president Obama we have lost control over what we have created [the internet]. We are not doing the job we should be doing,” Trump said.

Trump also blamed President Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton, for the rise of ISIS. “Obama and Clinton made a vacuum in Iraq when they left for ISIS [to form],” Trump said. Clinton responded by claiming that, “[President] George W. Bush created a deal of when the soldiers leave Iraq not [President] Obama.”

On nuclear weapons both Trump and Clinton agreed that a nuclear attack “is the biggest threat on our nation today.” However, Clinton does not find Trump capable of handling such an attack. “A man who gets worked up about a tweet should not have his finger near the button,” Clinton said.

The debate ended with both candidates confirming that they would accept the result of the election. “I support our democracy,” Clinton said.

Students and teachers at Homestead watched the debate. “Trump had a lot of good points at the beginning but Clinton was obviously more prepared and lead for her to have more consistent answers throughout debate putting Trump on the defensive,” Zack O’Connor, sophomore.

“Trump always found a way to make it about him and he wouldn’t shut up,” Georgia Miller, junior, added.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this in American history in a presidential debate,” Mr. Ciurlik, Homestead government teacher, said.

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