US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton have clashed during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hampstead, New York.
Trump and Clinton began their first face-off Monday in what many pundits presumed would be the most-watched debate in history ahead of the November 8 election.
The two clashed over plans for growing US economy, with Clinton accusing Trump of pushing economic policy that favored the rich at the expense of the middle class.
“The kind of plan that Donald has put forth would be trickle-down economics all over again. And in fact it would be the most extreme version, the biggest tax cuts for the top percents of the people in this country that we’ve ever had. I call it Trumped-up trickle-down, because that’s exactly what it would be. That’s not how we grow the economy,” she said.
Trump criticized Clinton for her trade policies, saying she has had decades without making lives better for Americans.
“We have to renegotiate our trade deals and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs,” he said.
Trump said Clinton’s economic plan is “all talk, no action, sounds good, never going to work.”
Trump slams Hillary on NAFTA and TPP
Trump slammed Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, for approving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Your husband signed NAFTA, one of the worst things that ever happened in the manufacturing industry,” Trump said. “You go to New England or Ohio or anywhere, you see devastation because of NAFTA.”
His aggressive approach put Clinton on the defensive, and he went on to accuse her of supporting President Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), a controversial trade agreement between several Pacific Rim countries that Clinton now opposes after having initially hailed it.
“You were totally in favor of it, then you heard how much I was against it and you said you couldn’t win,” Trump said.
“That’s just not accurate,” Clinton responded. “I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out.”
He shot back: “You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen, and then you heard what I said about it and all of a sudden you were against it.”
“Well, Donald, you live in your own reality, but it is not the facts,” she retorted.
Clinton censures Trump for ‘racist lie’
Clinton accused Trump of launching his political career based on the “racist lie” that President Obama was not born in the United States.
She blamed him for having a “long record of engaging in racist behavior” and saying that the “birther lie was a very hurtful one.”
“It can’t be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen,” she said.
“There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted year after year because supporters, people he was trying to bring into his fold either believed it or wanted to believe it,” she added.
Last week, Trump finally acknowledged that President Obama was born in America, not in Kenya as he used to claim.
He, however, did not apologize to Obama for his leading role in the so-called birther movement, which was launched by Republicans to discredit the nation’s first African-American president, and didn’t explain what caused him to change his view.
Trump’s campaign has been marked by controversial statements, including disparaging remarks about women, Mexican immigrants and Muslims.
He has also proposed a temporary ban on Muslim travelers and called for racial profiling of 3.3 million American Muslims.
He attacked Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state and she criticized Trump for not releasing his tax history.
“I’m not going to make any excuses, it was a mistake,” Clinton said referring to her use of private email.
She also said Trump is “trying to hide” his tax history, adding, “it must be something really important, even terrible.”
Trump reacted by saying, “I will release my tax returns against my lawyer’s wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted.”
Clinton also accused Trump of having a “long record of engaging in racist behavior” and criticized him for putting into question the citizenship of President Barack Obama.
“He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it. But he persisted. He persisted year after year,” Clinton said..
Trump, in response, raised Clinton’s tough critiques of Obama during their 2008 primary battle.
“You treated him with terrible disrespect and I watch the way you talk now about how lovely everything is, … it doesn’t work that way.”
“When you try to act holier than thou, it really doesn’t work,” the business mogul added.
On Daesh, Trump blamed Obama and Clinton for creating the terrorist group after the US pulled out its troops from Iraq, leaving “a vacuum the way they got out of” the country.
“They wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind,” Trump said.
Trump, however, did not reveal his plan for defeating Daesh, with Clinton saying, he had no plan at all.
“Well, at least I have a plan to fight ISIS (Daesh),” Clinton said, noting the US needs to intensify US airstrikes against Daesh and work with Turkish and Kurdish forces to fight the terrorists.
Clinton doesn’t have ‘stamina’ to be president
Trump again questioned Clinton’s well-being, saying she lacks the mental and physical stamina to run the country.
“I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina,” Trump said.
Clinton fired right back, “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a ceasefire, a release of dissidents… or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”
Clinton, 68, was forced to abruptly leave a 9/11 memorial in New York on September 11 due to an apparent medical episode.
A video of the incident surfaced of the Democratic nominee appearing to stumble into a black van during her departure. However, several analysts observed that Clinton didn’t faint that day, she collapsed.
The incident fueled speculations about Clinton’s health, an issue that has been haunting her ever since she suffered a blood clot in her brain in 2012.
The next two debates of the US presidential candidates are scheduled for October 9th and 19th.