On Monday, September 26th, 2016 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, faced each other in the first of three presidential debates to help decide who will be the 45th President of the United States of America. A week prior to the debate, moderator Lester Holt released the three main topics of the debate to the nominees. The topics included America’s direction, achieving prosperity, and securing America.
In following this theme, the first series of questions mostly focused on jobs and the economy. More specifically, Holt asked both candidates how they would increase the amount of jobs and money that are going to Americans. Trump answered with his plan to bring back companies that have moved overseas in pursuit of cheaper labor and his proposal of tax cuts for wealthy Americans. In contrast to this, Clinton answered with her plan to create more jobs in renewable energy in an effort to aid the fight for our environment and with a proposal to increase taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Trump did not seem to have a clear explanation for exactly how he would get businesses to return to America, but he did explain how cutting taxes and restrictions for wealthy American business owners would allow them to expand their companies and create jobs through their expansion. Clinton however, believes that increasing taxes for wealthy Americans will increase the flow of money to the middle class which has suffered greatly in Clinton’s opinion in recent times.
The second set of questions then shifted the focus of the debate to the points of contention that have been met with both candidates. More specifically, Trump was asked to explain why he has not released his tax returns while Clinton was then asked to respond to Trump regarding his comments on her deleted emails. It was at this point in the debate when blows began to be exchanged between both candidates in an effort to defend their own character and attack the character of their opponent. Trump responded to the dark cloud shrouding his tax return by stating that he would release it after the audit was completed. However, Holt then noted that the IRS allows the release of a tax return regardless of an audit. Trump did not have too much left in the form of a defense against this claim aside from shifting the focus from his debacle to that of Hilary’s. Hilary then admitted that the way she dealt with the email conundrum was a mistake and that she takes full responsibility for it. The climax of this series of questioning came when Trump claimed that he would release his tax return when Clinton releases her deleted emails. Predictably, this roused a response from the Trump side of the auditorium, which had mostly remained quiet until this blatant challenge offered to his opponent.
The third series of questioning raised the extremely touchy topic of race relations in America. There is a clear racial divide that has been widened in recent times, especially in regards to law enforcement and African Americans. Clinton was asked to explain how she plans on bridging this gap, which she then responded with her plan to put more money into re-training police officers and reducing the prejudice that comes with racial profiling. Trump then raised the prospect of bringing back stop and frisk, which he argued played a significant role in reducing crime in New York City during Rudy Giuliani’s tenure as mayor. Clinton then hit back, claiming that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional and only served to increase racial profiling. Holt ended the segment by asking Trump how he came to accept that Barack Obama was in fact born in the United States after vehemently insisting that he was not for five years prior. Trump simply stated that he accepted the fact after seeing Obama’s birth certificate which Holt then responded with the fact that the certificate was produced in 2011.
The final important series of questioning revolved around the substantial obligation to secure America. Cyber attacks, IS attacks, and the issue of the war in Iraq were all brought to the surface for each candidate to individually dissect. Clinton and Trump both believe that action should be taken to increase defensive measures against both cyber and Isis threats, but they did butt heads on the issue of the war in Iraq. Trump attacked Hillary and Obama over what he believed to be their premature decision to withdraw troops. He believes that this decision ultimately allowed Isis to organize in first place.
Holt closed the debate with a question regarding mutual acceptance over the decision of America’s voters. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton claimed that they would accept whatever decision was made by the American people, but the feeling is that it’s far from being that simple. There was an inescapable feeling that there is genuine animosity between both candidates as evidenced by the jabs that were inevitably thrown during each point of contention. Trump may be forthright in the way that he criticizes his fellow candidate, but Clinton can be just as jarring in the more subtle warfare that she engages in. Although Donald Trump’s mantra throughout his campaign has been “Let’s Make America Great Again,” Americans can only hope that whoever is elected can make America proud again.