After months of circling one another, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced off at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.
Despite not straying too far from the familiar talking points, Trump attempted to hammer Clinton on policy initiatives supported by both her and President Obama. Conversely, Clinton tried to paint the business mogul as a little more than a reactionary with little in the way of details.
The scope of the first debate covered myriad subjects such as economic stimulus, national security, international trade, cyber-security and immigration. This is one of the three debates between the Presidential candidates with the first Vice-Presidential debate on October 4.
“People who have looked at both of our plans, have concluded that mine would create 10 million jobs and yours would lose us 3.5 million jobs,” Clinton posited.
Yet the real estate magnate highlighted the bigger picture of trickle-down job creation by not only deregulating markets, but also cutting the tax liability of some of the largest companies in the nation.
“We have to do a much better job of providing incentives to companies to build new companies or to expand, because they’re not doing it…I will bring back jobs. You can’t bring back jobs,” said Trump.
In testy exchanges between the two, the deep philosophical and logistical divide was evident with their respective supporters audibly rousing their candidate throughout. The heated contentions continued to international trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Clinton, a supporter of the agreement that effectively opened the door to goods and revenue from Latin American and Canadian exporters, cited the deal as a step in the right direction to address the growing trade deficit. Trump, on the other hand, noted key details like the U.S. needing to pay an import tax to countries like Mexico as a sign to how deficient it is.
“Let’s not assume that trade is the only challenge we have in the economy. It’s a part of it and I’ve said what I’m going to do. I’m going to have a special prosecutor to enforce the trade deals we have and we’re going to hold people accountable,” Clinton argued.
Trading barbs on national security meant once again bringing up immigration and the War on Terror, which Trump blamed Clinton and the Obama administration for creating the terrorist group ISIS.
He went further to claim he was against intervening in Iraq and even more at odd with the manner in which troops were drawn down from the tumultuous hotbed. According to Trump, the sudden withdrawal of American military created a power vacuum led to an inevitable escalation of the fight on terror.
“Well, first I have to say one thing, very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS,” Trump explained. “Well, President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out–what, they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.”
Much of the focus then turned to to the right personality for the highest office in the land. With recent ads by the Clinton campaign portraying Trump as unstable and often short-tempered, the Republican candidate tried to shore up any questions about his character.
“I have a much better [temperament than Clinton says]. She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising to get Madison Avenue into a room,” Trump contended. “They decided ‘oh, temperament, let’s go after that’ and I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.”
In a debate that was slated to be a chance to cut through the rancor, the gloves did not stay on long. While Clinton attempted to stay on point with facts behind accusation of the Trump camp, even she was prone to jabs at the Republican nominee. Likewise, Trump took aim at the former Senator from New York as part of the Washington machine.
In many ways, this was Trump’s opportunity to project a Presidential image while Clinton simply had to maintain her persona as the only qualified person to be in the White House. With many national polls averaging Clinton with a five point lead prior to the tonight’s debate, only time will tell what the first meeting will do to polling trends.
With both camps touting victory for their candidate, swaying the election means reaching those still making up their minds. The contentious nature of this first meeting perhaps did little to garner more votes and more likely solidified any reputations both candidates already had.
“The other day, I saw Donald saying that there were some Iranian sailors on a ship in the waters off of Iran, and they were taunting American sailors who were on a nearby ship,” Clinton said. “He said ‘you know, if they taunted our sailors, I’d blow them out of the water and start another war.’ That’s not good judgment.”
Trump, for his part, used the waning moments of the debate to reassure potential supporters he was the the right person after eight years of the Obama Administration.
“Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?” concluded Trump.