Clinton, Trump come out swinging in first presidential debate

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton squared off in the first of three presidential debates Monday night. Photo: CNN broadcast

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton squared off in the first of three presidential debates Monday night. Photo: CNN broadcast

Story by Becca Mann, infographic by Carissa Soukup, NewsNetNebraska

Republican Party nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton went head-to-head Monday night during a 90-minute battle in the first Presidential debate of the 2016 campaign season.

Clinton entered the event with a determination to win and convince viewers why she deserves to take the election. In doing so, Clinton poked and prodded at Trump’s own words as he became angrier and dismissive throughout the night.

“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate,” Clinton said. “And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president and I think that’s a good thing.”

Trump responded about his temper, stating, “I think my strongest asset by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament.”

Key issues in the debate included jobs and the economy, race in America, mutual acceptance, “Securing America,” Trump’s tax returns and Clinton’s email scandal. “Securing America” focused on institutions in the nation under cyber attack whose secrets are being stolen, and what the candidates will do to stop this from happening.

Moderating Struggles

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Anya Graubard is a UNL sophomore. Click on this photo to hear her comments about the debate. Photo: Julia Nguyen, NewsNetNebraska

While moderator and NBC News anchor Lester Holt attempted to stick to his script, he was often forced to re-ask questions when they were avoided by the candidates. When Trump was asked about his tax returns, the answer focused on Clinton’s email scandal. When Holt asked Clinton about the emails, she, in turn, focused her answer on Trump, calling on him to release his tax returns.

Race in the United States

Another hot topic was the mention of Trump’s role in obtaining President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and Trumps recent admission that Obama had been born in the United States. For years Trump claimed Obama was born outside the U.S. and therefore was ineligible to be president. When asked why he had perpetuated the false claims about Obama, Trump said he wanted to change the discussion.

“I want to get on to defeating ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs, because I want to get on to having a strong border, because I want to get on to things that are very important to me and that are very important to the country,” he said.


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Clinton fired back when the question was brought back to Obama’s birth certificate after Trump blamed her 2008 presidential campaign for bringing it up. Clinton focused on lawsuits from the 1970s Justice Department. During this time, Trump was accused of racial discrimination in housing properties that he owned.

“He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior,” she said. “And the birther lie was a very hurtful one.”

Monday’s debate made it clear that Clinton and Trump are not fond of each other. Clinton attacked Trump for his treatment of women, bringing attention to comments he had made in the past about 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado of Venezuela.

“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest-he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them-and he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy,’ then he called her ‘Ms. Housekeeping,’ because she was Latino,” Clinton said.

Trump fired back, asking where she got the information and terms she claimed he used. He credited himself for never being  mean to Clinton, but added he considered making remarks during the night.

“I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary and her family,” he said. “But I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it, I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate and it’s just not nice.”

Up Next

The second presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 9 with the vice presidential debate taking place on Oct. 4.

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